The US Congress has approved a £83 billion war chest for Afghanistan and Iraq – with the vital votes of the Democrats. The new round of funding will push the cost of the occupations to £330 billion.
The vote was a crucial test for the Democrats, who won control of both chambers in the Congress in November 2006 on the back of growing discontent over the war.
The Democrats agreed to drop all their original objections to the war funds. They were due to make the setting of a date for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq a crucial proviso for approving the bill.
But they dropped their objections after George Bush's administration agreed to pour more money into veteran healthcare, and topped up spending on New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The leader of the Republican bloc in the Senate described the vote by the Democrats as 'a real victory. It gets our troops the funding they need for success – without hamstringing our commanders in the field with politically motivated war restrictions.'
The vote comes as an opinion poll commissioned by ABC News and the Washington Post shows that 63 percent of US voters think the war with Iraq was not worth fighting, and 55 percent want US troops to withdraw from Iraq.
The Democrats are also set to approve a law that would give the US government the right to tap telephone calls and read private emails.
The bill will also grant immunity from prosecution for telecoms companies that snooped on their employees and customers.
This move torpedoes lawsuits taken out by citizens who alleged these companies had broken privacy laws.