The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to fund U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- without a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Lawmakers passed the 120-billion-dollar war funding bill Thursday, after congressional Democrats dropped earlier demands for a troop-withdrawal timetable.
President Bush applauded the legislation. At a White House news conference (earlier in the day), he said he believes a withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops would be a catastrophe for Iraq.
The president says the bill moving through Congress provides funds that American troops need and ties the continuing commitment of U.S. forces in Iraq to political and military progress there.
The Democratic-led U.S. Senate is due to take up the funding bill shortly .
The Republican minority leader, Congressman John Boehner said the Democrats' original tactics sent a negative message to the troops. Republicans on Capitol Hill say their efforts on the war-funding bill forced Democrats to move away from a course that would have harmed U.S. troops.
The 120-billion-dollar bill will fund military operations through September. It includes a set of political and security benchmarks the Iraqi government must achieve, or risk losing vital reconstruction aid.
In addition to funding for Iraq, the legislation includes billions of dollars for domestic projects, including an increase in the minimum wage for American workers.
Earlier this month, Mr. Bush vetoed the original war-funding bill, which included a schedule for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.