Funding bill to split votes of Nevada's delegation

WASHINGTON -- When they voted last month on a spending bill for U.S. troops in Iraq, Nevada lawmakers in the House and Senate split along party lines.

Although congressional negotiators completed a new version of the bill Monday, Nevada lawmakers do not intend to change their votes.

Supporters of the $124.2 billion bill argue it provides sufficient money for the troops and relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina, among other items.

Opponents argue the bill hamstrings military leaders by calling for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops by late March 2008.

"In this bill, there's $4 billion more for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (than the original bill)," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who supports the legislation.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he will vote against the bill because of the troop withdrawal dates, which he said are "based on the judgment of politicians in Washington with no regard for our commanders on the ground."

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., also opposes the new version of the bill.

"I don't think the language has changed. I think the language restricts our soldiers, and there is still pork (funding for lawmakers' projects)," Heller said.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will vote for the bill.

"This package sends an unmistakable message to President Bush that the time is now for a new course in Iraq," Berkley said.

Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., will vote against the bill because of the troop withdrawal dates.

"The Democrats had faith in (Gen. David) Petraeus (the U.S. commander in Iraq) 90 days ago when he was confirmed. I encourage them to maintain their confidence and permit him to finish the job he was sent to execute," he said.