Biden Amendement Could Pay for Tougher Military Trucks
By NICOLE GAUDIANO
U.S. Sen. Joe Biden's legislation to boost funding for new armored vehicles unanimously passed the Senate on Thursday.
It would give the military additional funding for vehicles called "mine resistant, ambush protected" vehicles that protect service members from roadside bombs better than armored Humvees, according to a statement.
"Seventy percent of our casualties in Iraq come from roadside bombs, and these new MRAP vehicles can reduce those casualties by two-thirds," Biden, D-Del., said in a statement. "These MRAPs are proven life-savers and we need to get as many of them in the field as possible, as soon as possible."
Biden said his amendment to add $1.5 billion to the Senate's war spending bill means 2,500 vehicles will get to the field six months sooner than under the current plan.
The $123 billion Senate war-spending bill, which would pay for continuing war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, calls for a withdrawal of most, but not all, troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008.
The bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 51-47, also directs the Defense Department to continue to train and equip Iraqi security forces.
The bill includes funding for veterans' health care as well as programs unrelated to the war or the military, including agricultural assistance, pandemic flu preparedness and disaster relief.
It also calls for raising the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 over two years.
The $124 billion House bill, passed last week, would establish a series of political and military benchmarks Iraqis would have to meet.
If President Bush could not certify those benchmarks have been met, the bill would require U.S. troops to be pulled out of Iraq by the end of the year. If the benchmarks were met, the bill would require Bush to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq by March 1, 2008, finishing by the end of August 2008.
The House version also contains funds for veterans' care, a minimum wage increase and a host of unrelated other programs.
The president has promised to veto a bill with withdrawal requirements.