Senate Approves More Funds for Armored Humvees in Iraq, Afghanistan

Emergency Support Funding Bill Includes Cantwell-Supported Boost for Armored Humvees, Border Security, and Tsunami Relief

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate unanimously passed an emergency spending bill today that will provide U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with much-needed equipment, including armored Humvees.

"Thousands of troops are still bravely serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell said. "It is our responsibility to make sure they have the equipment they need to do their jobs and get home safely."

The bill includes an amendment co-sponsored by Cantwell to spend $150 million on new, up-armored High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (Humvees) to send to Iraq and Afghanistan. The amendment also includes a provision requiring the Pentagon to report to Congress every two months on the progress of armoring Humvees.

The Pentagon has come under fire since last summer over reports that many soldiers overseas were being transported in unarmored Humvees. Some soldiers even resorted to applying makeshift armor made of scrap metal and sandbags for extra protection. Since May 2003, forty percent of deaths in Iraq have been related to roadside bombs and explosions that destroy the insufficiently-armored vehicles.

The spending bill also includes $611 million to upgrade Humvees with additional protective gear such as armor kits.

Cantwell sent a letter last Thursday to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld urging him to consider purchasing armor kits made of new composite-based technologies. These kits offer the advantage of being light-weight, yet still as strong as steel.

Cantwell announced her letter to Rumsfeld last Thursday while visiting Armor Systems International (ASI), a company based in Vancouver, Washington, that designs such composite technology for Humvee armor. She was joined by local officials and Sergeant Adam Furno of the Washington National Guard. Furno recently returned home from Iraq, where he personally applied makeshift armor to his Humvee.

The $82 billion spending bill also includes $907 million for assistance to tsunami victims and $635 million for domestic border security.

The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 1268), approved by the Senate today, passed the House of Representatives last Thursday and will now be sent to President Bush for his signature.

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