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By BEN FELLER – 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush on Monday signed legislation to pay for the war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of his presidency and beyond, hailing the $162 billion plan as a rare product of bipartisan cooperation.
The legislation will bring to more than $650 billion the amount Congress has provided for the Iraq war since it began more than five years ago. For operations in Afghanistan, the total is nearly $200 billion, according to congressional officials.
"Our nation has no greater responsibility than supporting our men and women in uniform — especially since we're at war," Bush said. "This is a responsibility all of us in Washington share, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans."
The package approved by Congress includes a doubling of GI Bill college benefits for troops and veterans. It also provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits, $2.7 billion in emergency flood relief for the Midwest, and tens of billions of dollars for food aid, anti-drug enforcement, Louisiana levee repairs and many other items.
The bill will fund the wars well into next year, when their fate will be in the hands of Bush's successor.