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National Briefing / WASHINGTON

Defense budget set at $612 billion

September 28, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Troops would get a pay raise in a defense bill that Congress sent President Bush after lawmakers had backed away from an election-season showdown with the administration over Iraq.

Legislation approved by a voice vote in the Senate would set $612 billion in defense spending next year, increase pay by 3.9%, extend bonuses and provide money for family housing, tuition assistance and other programs.

The House approved the bill overwhelmingly on Wednesday. Bush is expected to sign the measure.

In the end, House-Senate bargainers dropped several provisions Bush opposed. Eliminated was language barring private interrogators from U.S. military detention facilities and giving Congress a chance to block a security pact with Iraq.

The legislation also lacks a call for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq -- something Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama long has called for and Republican nominee John McCain has opposed.

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