WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate Monday overwhelmingly passed the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill after weeks of debate failed to find consensus on Iraq withdrawal language.
The bill, which authorizes more than half a trillion U.S. dollars in defense spending and 150 billion dollars for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is headed to conference with the House version, which also does not contain any Iraq withdrawal language.
It does not approve the Pentagon's latest request to increase the war spending in fiscal year 2008 to nearly 190 billion dollars.
The bill was passed by a vote of 92-3, with Sen. Robert Byrd, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican voting against it.
As the Senate and the House head into conference negotiations over the defense policy bill, they will still have to iron out some major differences before the bill is ready to reach President George W. Bush's desk for signing.
For one thing, the Senate and House committees will have to find common ground on funding for missile defense, which the House cut far more deeply than the Senate did.
Both Senate and House bills authorized a 3.5 percent pay increase for all military personnel, and take steps to address shortfalls in the care of wounded members of the military.
According to U.S. laws, the defense authorization bill authorizes the money to be spent, but does not guarantee it.
Bush will have to wait until Congress passes a separate appropriations bill before war funds are transferred to military coffers.