Senate to debate war funding next week

The Senate returns next week to debate the contentious fiscal 06 war and hurricane relief emergency supplemental package. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has carved out two weeks of floor time to debate and vote on the provisions because fiscal conservatives have objected to the $106.5 billion price tag.

Frist originally scheduled one week of floor debate for the package. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and other conservatives are expected to challenge several provisions that they consider "pork projects" and not related to emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Democrats are expected to offer numerous amendments to increase spending for hot-button election-year issues like veteran's health care and energy independence. The Senate reconvenes Monday for morning hour business, but votes are not expected to begin until Tuesday on the measure.

If the Senate approves the $106.5 billion package -- nearly $15 billion more than President Bush requested and the House passed -- the Senate version is likely to face strong opposition from the House over the extra spending when the two chambers negotiate a compromise.

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