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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 21, 2003
3:40 PM
CONTACT:  US Rep David Obey
Dave Helfert (202) 225-3481 / 225-4223
House Passes Obey Iraq Loan Measure; 84 Republicans Ignore White House Veto Threat
 
WASHINGTON - October 21 - In the second stunning defeat for President George W. Bush in a week, the House of Representatives today voted by more than a two-to-one margin to make half of the reconstruction funding for Iraq a loan. The language was included in a motion by Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Obey's motion instructs the House members of a House-Senate conference committee to approve conversion of $10 billion of nearly $20 billion in reconstruction funds for Iraq into a loan. But the loan would become a grant if 90% of Iraq's debt to other countries is forgiven. The motion also adds an additional $1.3 billion to funding for veterans' health care this year, and extends health care benefits for military Reservists being called to active duty. The three provisions were approved by the Senate last week despite White House pressure.

"Eighty four Republicans supported this motion over the President's opposition," Obey noted. "Clearly, when given a choice between the Administration's 'My Way Or The Highway' approach and the opportunity to support a more sensible method of rebuilding Iraq, Congress prefers the sensible."

The White House has said that the President will veto the supplemental appropriation bill if any of the reconstruction funding is in the form of a loan rather than outright grant. President Bush reportedly told a group of Senators summoned to the White House last week that the matter was not open to debate.

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