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Separate Afghan war funding bill needed: U.S. lawmaker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress likely will need to pass a separate spending bill next year to pay for President Barack Obama's troop increase in Afghanistan, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said on Tuesday.

Asked if there will be a separate funding bill for Obama's planned increase of 30,000 troops over the next six months, Levin, a Democrat, said, "I think there will have to be."

Congress has largely paid for the wars in separate emergency bills each year since fighting started in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003, but Democrats had criticized that method under former President George W. Bush and had hoped to change that in 2010.

The Pentagon's spending bill for the fiscal year that started on October 1 includes money for both wars, but does not cover Obama's planned increase.

Congressional negotiators have not finished work on that bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees spending, will likely hold hearings on the issue, an aide said.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Susan Cornwell, editing by Vicki Allen)