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Appropriations Passes Supplemental After Heated Debate

Following a contentious half-day debate, the House Appropriations Committee voted to approve the $124 billion Iraq War spending bill Thursday, attaching several amendments — including a provision to prohibit the closure of Walter Reed Army Medical Center — but leaving intact language requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq no later than 2008.

The bill passed 36-28 along party lines with the exception of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) who has called for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and voted against the measure. Reps. John Peterson (R-Pa.) and John Doolittle (R-Calif.) were not present for the vote.

Members approved several amendments, including a manager’s package authored by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) that would prohibit Walter Reed from being shuttered, and exempting it from a list of facilities slated for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

“We can decide later on whether Walter Reed should be closed,” said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who had proposed the amendment to Murtha. Lawmakers, who passed the full package on a unanimous voice vote, asserted the facility should remain open for the duration of the Iraq War.

In addition, the committee approved an amendment pledging Congressional “support” for “the needs” of military personnel deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

That measure, a substitute amendment authored by Murtha, replaced a proposal put forth by the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), that would have struck down Democrats’ proposed withdrawal timeline, as well as requirements for troops to be fully trained before deployment and allowed specific rest periods between missions.

“I do not believe this Congress should substitute its wisdom for that of commanders in the field,” Lewis asserted.

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