WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed legislation Thursday to pay for his troop increase for the war in Afghanistan, even though it was stripped of money for domestic stimulus programs he wanted.
Congress passed the bill Tuesday and Obama signed it without public remarks in a low-keyed Oval Office session.
Democratic leaders had to rely on Republican support to pass the $59 billion measure, which provides money for 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan and other programs. With Pentagon leaders warning that money for the troops could run out as early as Aug. 7, the House of Representatives accepted the Senate’s pared-down version of the legislation.
The bill favoured by the House would have included billions of dollars to help keep teachers on the job, provide aid for college students and enhance border security.
With the new war spending, the total that Congress has allotted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan surpasses $1 trillion.
The signing took place just days after the unauthorized release of thousands of classified documents about the war that revealed some of the problems with the mission and with the Afghanistan government. Obama had urged its quick passage despite the publication of the sensitive battlefied reports that reignited debate over the war.
Obama requested the emergency war money in February.
After the Senate passed it in May, the House approved its own version on July 1 after adding more than $20 billion in domestic spending. The Senate last week rejected that approach, falling 14 votes short of what was needed to break a Republican-led delaying tactic.
The bill includes more than $33.5 billion for the additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and to pay for other Pentagon operational expenses, $5.1 billion to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund, $6.2 billion for State Department aid programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Haiti, and $13.4 billion in benefits for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange.
In addition to stripping out money for teachers and student aid, the final bill does not include an administration request for more than $4 billion to finance settlements of long-standing lawsuits against the government, including $1.2 billion to remedy discrimination by the Agriculture Department against black farmers and $3.4 billion for mismanaging Indian trust funds.