The Senate on Friday passed the request by a 87 to 12 vote, following its overwhelming approval in the House of Representatives, where 74 Democrats dumped party loyalties to vote for the bill.

President Bush was quick to hail the passage of his request, saying "the funds will provide the resources necessary to make Iraq more secure and support its transition to self-government, which is critical to winning the war on terror."

"They will also continue our efforts to help build an Afghanistan that is prosperous, democratic and at peace, and that contributes to regional stability," Bush said in a statement issued by the White House.

A joint committee of the two houses will now reconcile the bills before coming up with a final measure.

Hiccups

But the passage of the president's request for additional funds had its share of hiccups.

The Senate watered down Bush's request with an amendment, converting half of a $20 billion aid package to Iraq into a loan.

"The funds will provide the resources necessary to make Iraq more secure"

George Bush,
US President

And before passing the bill, the Senate trimmed another $ 1.9 dollars with an amendment cutting expenses it deemed unnecessary, including creation of a postal code system for Iraq and construction of a prison.

Bush chided the Senate for having converted grants to loans.

"Loans are the wrong approach. They would slow the reconstruction of Iraq, delay the democratic process and send the wrong message to both the region and the world," the president said.