Tuesday, June 1, 2010

US Senate passes $349 million economic stimulus for Pakistan

US Senate passes $349 million aid for Pakistan

* House passes economic and security aid for Pakistan as part of a $60 billion war supplemental bill to fund Afghan operations and some projects requested by Obama admin

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The US Senate has passed $349 million in economic and security aid for Pakistan, as part of a $60 billion war supplemental bill to fund Afghan operations and some other projects requested by the Obama administration.

The summary of the measure, passed on Thursday, said that of the $349 million assistance for Pakistan, $259 million was for social and economic support programmes and activities, including $10 million for the Pakistan Civilian Assistance Programme.

The Obama administration had requested the money in economic, law enforcement, and military assistance for Pakistan.

The US House of Representatives will approve its own version of the war supplemental measure, following which the two texts would be reconciled before the Congress sends the bill to the US president for his signature. The bill also appropriates finances for Iraq and quake-hit Haiti.

$33 billion approved by the Senate was to finance the 30,000 troop “surge” in Afghanistan that Obama announced in December.

An additional $4 billion is for the State Department to fund the “civilian surge,” bringing economic aid to Afghanistan. The new money is in addition to about $130 billion the Congress already approved for Afghanistan and Iraq for this year – and over $300 billion since 2001 just for the war in Afghanistan.

The Senate voted 67-28 to fund the troops. Many of those opposing the funding were Republicans who said they were concerned that ways were not found to pay for the new spending with cuts to other programs.

The Senate shelved a Republican bid to make the cuts, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scoffed that Republicans “never raised a fuss about paying for the war under President (George W.) Bush.”

For Haiti, the $2.8 billion package, including $913 million in economic aid, is destined to support the impoverished Caribbean nation, which remains in dire straits after the January earthquake, which left more than 1.3 million people homeless and claimed up to 300,000 lives.

In the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, senators approved an amendment from Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu to expedite coastal development projects that are already in the works.

Amid warnings that 2010 could bring one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, the bill also provided $5.1 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is responsible for managing the response to natural disasters. agencies

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