US Congress approves money for IMF, Afghanistan, Iraq

June 19th, 2009 - 8:11 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, June 19 (DPA) The US Congress has approved a $106-billion spending bill that includes money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The wide-ranging legislation includes money for foreign aid, preventing a flu pandemic and a “cash-for-clunkers” initiative that encourages consumers to trade in older, less efficient cars to help revive the auto industry.

The Senate passed the measure in a 91-5 vote Thursday. The lower House of Representatives approved the same bill 226-202 Tuesday, largely along partisan lines amid complaints from Republicans over the addition of items unrelated to the wars.

The legislation, which now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature, includes about $80 billion for the ongoing war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

More than $10 billion will also be provided in development aid to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.

It is the first war supplemental since President Barack Obama took office in January. Obama has pledged to wind down US efforts in Iraq while sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama has said it will be the last time his administration asks for an emergency war funding bill outside of the regular budget process, ending a practice that carried through nearly all of former president George W. Bush’s tenure.

The legislation includes money for the IMF, part of a pledge made by the US during the April summit of the Group of 20 (G20) nations in London.

The US will loan $100 billion to the IMF to help stabilise countries facing chronic budget shortfalls amid the ongoing financial crisis.

The G20 agreed to boost the IMF’s lending budget by $500 billion. The European Union, Japan, China and Brazil have also agreed to provide loans.

The legislation includes $5 billion in case of a partial default on the IMF loan. Nearly all Republicans in the House opposed the bill because of the IMF funding, deriding it as a “global bail-out”.

The legislation also includes $1 billion for the “cash-for-clunkers” programme, which drew the ire of many Republicans in the Senate. The money will provide incentives for consumers to switch to newer, greener alternative vehicles.

US car companies had been clamouring for the programme to help revive sales, which have dipped more than 35 percent since October amid the ongoing recession.

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