Senate Passes War Funding Bill

Both Feingold and McCain proposed amendments to the bill that were shot down.

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The Senate passed a $58.8 billion spending bill Thursday to finance war efforts as the military readies to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

The spending measure will also give $68 million to oil spill relief efforts on the Gulf Coast, including $10 million for the Department of Justice to prosecute any violators of the Oil Pollution or Clean Water acts. This comes at the end of a congressional week packed with hearings and press conferences to discuss the damage caused by the oil rig explosion.

The war-funding bill passed by a 67 to 28 vote in the Senate with bipartisan support.

Two key amendments were struck down during yesterday's debate. Sen. Russ Feingold's amendment requiring a timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan was denied by members, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Feingold voted no on the war bill, and was concerned about appropriating more funds to the military without a troop withdrawal plan in place. "Now, however, this supplemental will add some $30 billion more to the nearly $300 billion we've already spent in Afghanistan, with no end in sight," he said. Since the September 11 attacks, Congress has approved $227 billion to support war efforts in Afghanistan, according to a Congressional Research Service report released in September.

Sen. John McCain's request to send 6,000 National Guard troops to secure the U.S. Mexico border was also denied. Earlier this week, President Obama called for 1,200 troops to be sent to the border. But during the war-funding debate yesterday, Republican Sen. John Cornyn, whose separate amendment to strengthen border security was also struck down, said that number was too low. "Visit the border, Senators, and see for yourselves. Talk to law enforcement," said Cornyn. "It's not enough." 

Both McCain and Cornyn voted against the bill. The Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, voted in favor of the spending bill.

The house is expected to take up their own spending bill, which includes additional troop funding and $23 billion to prevent teacher layoffs, after Memorial Day.