House passes defense bill.

Today, the House passed a new $696 billion defense authorization bill that includes a pay raise for troops. AP reports:

President Bush had rejected an earlier version of the legislation because he said it would expose the Iraqi government to expensive lawsuits.

The new bill, which passed, 369–46, would let Bush grant Iraq immunity under the provision, which otherwise guarantees that U.S. victims of state-sponsored abuse can sue foreign governments in court. Iraqi officials objected to the measure because they said it would have subjected Baghdad to high-dollar payouts in damages from the Saddam Hussein era.

The administration now supports the bill, said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.


‘’We appreciate that the House moved quickly to address the serious concerns the president had,’’ he said.

The revised measure also makes the 3.5 percent pay increase for troops — included in the original bill — retroactive to Jan. 1.