Senate approves war funds but not Gitmo closure

The Senate late Thursday approved a 91.3-billion-dollar 2009 budget supplemental to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through October 1, but without funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The senators approved the measure in a voice vote that passed 83 against three, after days of debate over the fate of the 240 prisoners being held at the "war on terror" prison camp at the US naval base in Cuba, which President Barack Obama has pledged to close.

Senate Democrats on Wednesday joined Republicans in a lopsided 90-6 vote to forbid transferring to US soil any of the 240 detainees held at Guantanamo.

In a major speech on Thursday, Obama defended his decision to close the prison, describing it as a "mess" that had stained the reputation of the United States.

Obama also said he may seek to transfer some of the most dangerous Guantanamo detainees to US "super-max" top security jails — a step highly unpopular with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a similar bill, a 96.7-billion-dollar measure to pay for the wars as well as aid for ally Pakistan, on May 14.

The two chambers now need to reconcile their rival versions to send a final bill to Obama to be signed into law.