WASHINGTON – President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation allowing $612 billion in defense spending for the 2009 budget year, including a pay raise for troops.
The legislation allows a supplement of nearly $70 billion for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and requires more information on contractors with projects in Iraq.
It also paves the way for Bush's plan to build an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, a proposal strongly opposed by Russia.
For troops, the authorization bill provides for a 3.9 percent pay raise and provides money for family housing, tuition assistance and other programs.
In reaching a deal, House and Senate negotiators left out language that 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 president signed the bill at the White House before spending nearly two hours getting a briefing at the Pentagon. White House press secretary Dana Perino described the session between Bush and his military team as a "routine visit" about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transformation of the military.