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WASHINGTON - The House, debating an $81.4 billion war spending bill on Tuesday, prohibited money in the legislation from being used for a new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, a move that went against the administration's wishes.
President Bush had asked that $658 million in his request for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan be spent on a fortified diplomatic compound that could house a staff of 1,000 in Iraq. House Republicans sliced that request to $590 million.
In a 258-170 vote on Tuesday, the House approved an amendment that bars money in the war spending package from being used for embassy security, construction and maintenance.
Rep. Fred Upton (news, bio, voting record), R-Mich., the sponsor of the amendment, said building an embassy is not something that should be paid for through a spending bill intended for emergencies. "This is not an argument about priorities but rather process," Upton said.
The president proposed his $81.9 billion war spending package in February, and almost immediately members of Congress bristled at the request by the State Department for a sprawling embassy in Baghdad. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued to House leadership that building a secure embassy in Iraq was an urgent matter.
the sponsor of the amendment, said building an embassy is not something that should be paid for through a spending bill intended for emergencies