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Legislation to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year is on its way to President Obama, but it provides no money for closing the Guantanamo detainee prison and sets tough restrictions on the transfer of its inmates.
The $106 billion emergency war bill is not all for war fighting. It includes many unrelated items, including a "cash for clunkers" incentive to swap gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles; and funds for UN peacekeeping, air service to rural communities, Gulf Coast housing for hurricane victims and the response to a flu pandemic.
Lawmakers sent Obama, who wants to close the prison, not one but two messages Thursday to prove they don't like the idea.
In addition to the war fighting bill, which received final congressional approval, the House used the first spending bill for 2010 to deny the president money to close the prison next year. The legislation funds law enforcement and science programs.
Many lawmakers are upset at the possibility that alleged terrorists could end up in their states or districts.
The Iraq and Afghanistan war bill, passed 91-5 Thursday by the Senate and 226-202 the previous day in the House, may represent a milestone in paying for the two wars.
The White House and Democratic lawmakers say this will be the last time the war-fighting bill will be given special treatment as emergency legislation — allowing it to add to the deficit without funds to pay the cost.
Obama has said that in the future all war operation expenses will be incorporated in the Defense Department budget.
Several senators complained about the add-ons that gave the bill an extra $20 billion cost above the president's request.
The bill includes about $80 billion to finance the two wars through this fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The Pentagon has predicted that the Army could begin running out of money for personnel and operations as early as July without the infusion of more money.
Other items include $4.5 billion, $1.9 billion above what the president requested, for lightweight mine-resistant vehicles, called MRAPs, and $2.7 billion for eight C-17 and seven C-130J cargo planes that the Pentagon did not ask for.
The Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, restrictions in the war funding bill would:
—Prohibit detainees from being released in the United States.
—Prevent prisoners being transferred to the United States, except to be prosecuted. Even then, a number of requirements would have to be met, including a plan showing the risks involved, the costs, the legal rationale and certification from the attorney general that the individual poses little or no security risk.
—Stop detainees from being transferred or released to another country unless the president meets a separate set of requirements, including an assessment of risks posed and terms of the transfer agreement with the receiving country.
The House voted 259-157 for the $64.4 billion package to fund Obama's law enforcement and science priorities in the budget year starting in October.
The bill passed by the House was the first of 12 spending bills Congress must pass for next year.
This program aired on June 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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