WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House of Representatives lawmakers sent a clear warning on Thursday to President Barack Obama about growing exhaustion over the war in Afghanistan as they passed a defense policy bill authorizing $690 billion in military spending for the 2012 fiscal year.
Members of the House concerned about the conflict lost a vote aimed at forcing a change in Obama's Afghan war strategy but came close to requiring the president to begin planning for withdrawal. A vote that would prevent putting any U.S. troops on the ground in Libya passed nearly unanimously.
The votes came as the Republican-led House debated and passed the National Defense Authorization Act, 322-96, approving a $553 billion Pentagon base budget and $119 billion for overseas contingency operations, mainly the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A Senate panel was expected to take up its version of the act next month. Once it is passed by the full Senate, the two measures must be reconciled and differences ironed out before it goes to Obama for his signature into law.
Although the bill authorizes expenditures, it is primarily a means for Congress and the administration to set defense policy. Actual spending levels are established by appropriations bills and other measures.
(Reporting by David Alexander and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Eric Beech)