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House Democrats cut unemployment extension to fund wars
John Byrne
Published: Wednesday June 4, 2008

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Seeking to find a way to win over fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" members of their own caucus, House Democrats are planning to ax a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits to find a way to pay for the Iraq war.

The move comes against the wishes of the Senate: the unemployment benefit passed without incident there, with 75 senators supporting the final bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told the Washington Post yesterday that the unemployment insurance provision would "probably not" be part of the final package of war and domestic spending.

The bill provides funding for President Bush's Iraq and Afghan wars. It also provides a new educational benefit for military servicemembers -- at $52 billion. The Senate has passed Bush's war bill already, at $250 billion for 10 years; the House bill settles at $165 billion, and also includes funding for some domestic measures.

Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) oppose the military educational benefit, saying it is too expensive and will drain troops from active service. The benefit, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), offers enough money to cover all university charges, up to the cost of the most expensive public university in a veteran's home state.

Hoyer told the Post the final version of the bill won't come to the House floor until at least next week, while members negotiate between the chambers.

With Reuters.