House, Senate agree on $82 billion war spending bill
By Ted Barrett
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House and Senate conferees have agreed to an $82 billion supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A vote is expected in the House Thursday and in the Senate next week.
The bill includes controversial provisions to prevent states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, stiffen asylum laws, and complete a long-stalled security fence on the border between California and Mexico.
Details of these provisions -- which were the subject of intense congressional negotiations -- were not immediately available although wholesale changes from the bill originally passed by the House were not adopted, according to an aide to House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner.
Most of the money allocated in the bill, $75.9 billion, will be spent on the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also includes measures to:increase the death benefit for U.S service members from $12,000 to $100,000; increase the maximum life insurance benefit for service members from $250,000 to $400,000; pay service members who lose a limb or suffer some other traumatic injury $100,000.
The bill also contains $4.2 billion in other international spending. That includes $592 million to build a new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; $680 million for peacekeeping in Sudan, Haiti, and elsewhere; $1.7 billion for anti-terror and anti-narcotic programs in Afghanistan; more than $250 million for economic assistance in the Palestinian territories and Israel; $240 million for international food aid; and $250 million in military assistance for Pakistan and Jordan.
Also in the bill are $656 million for tsunami relief and $635 million for increased border security and enforcement in the United States.
The bill drops Senate language that would have cut off the ongoing independent counsel investigation of Clinton Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros.
It requires federal agencies that produce video news releases to include disclaimers that the material was prepared at taxpayer expense.
The bill is expected to get wide approval in the House and Senate and President Bush's signature, congressional aides said.