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Murtha: Iraq Funding Bill Likely to Wait

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, said Thursday that an upcoming Iraq spending bill likely will wait until October and potentially later because Congress still does not have final requests from the Bush administration.

“I don’t see any way that it can be done before Oct. 1,” Murtha said, noting that Congress has yet to see U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus’ recommendations and Members are anticipating tens of billions in additional spending requests from the White House on top of the $147 billion for war in their budget.

Murtha added that he still hopes to complete the main Defense spending bill before October, the start of the new fiscal year.

Murtha had originally planned to fold the Iraq spending bill into the Defense spending bill in conference but now expects the two measures to move separately.

If Murtha’s prediction is right, that could postpone the key decision point for binding votes on drawing down troops from Iraq. Murtha reiterated that he doesn’t expect Congress to pass a full year’s worth of war spending, but rather funding for a shorter time frame that would force the Bush administration to come back next year to justify additional spending.

— Steven T. Dennis

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