Thwarted in efforts to bring troops home from Iraq, Senate Democrats on Monday helped pass a defense policy bill authorizing another $150 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 92-3 vote comes as the House planned to approve separate legislation today that requires President Bush to give Congress a plan for eventual troop withdrawals.
The developments underscored the difficulty facing Democrats in the Iraq debate: They lack the votes to pass legislation ordering troops home and are divided on whether to cut money for combat, despite a mandate by supporters to end the war.
While the Senate policy bill authorizes the money to be spent, it does not guarantee it; Bush will have to wait until Congress passes a separate appropriations bill before war funds are transferred.
Man admits guilt in oil program
Texas oilman Oscar Wyatt Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to a federal conspiracy charge, abruptly ending his trial by admitting he approved a $200,000 payment directly to an Iraqi bank account knowing it violated the rules of the U.N. oil-for-food program.
Under the plea agreement, Wyatt, 83, will be sentenced to 18 to 24 months in prison and forfeit $11 million.
“I didn’t want to waste any more time at 83 years old fooling with this operation,” Wyatt said immediately after the jury was discharged.
The government had accused Wyatt of paying millions of dollars to Iraqi officials to illegally win contracts connected to the oil-for-food program.
During the trial, prosecutors demonstrated Wyatt had such a close relationship with Iraq that he was able to meet personally with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in December 1990 to argue for the release of Americans being held as potential shields in the event of a U.S.-Iraq war.