View items included in the House's version of the defense budget.

WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday approved a $646 billion defense budget bill for fiscal 2008 that would promise large military pay raises until 2012, funds to repair Army and Marine Corps equipment and $142 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The authorization measure, which passed by a vote of 397-27, is the first step in setting defense spending for next fiscal year.

The hefty price tag is nearly $22 billion above the Defense Department’s budget request, but the House version includes extra money for reset of Army and Marine Corps equipment damaged and lost in combat operation overseas.

House lawmakers also added more than $1.5 billion for more Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, and another $1 billion to help fill gaps in National Guard equipment inventories.

To offset some of those increases, the House proposal cut $867 million from the Army’s Future Combat Systems program for next year, which House Republicans tried unsuccessfully to restore. The move still left the program with nearly $3 billion.

The authorization would pay for an increase in the Army end strength by 36,000 soldiers and the Marine Corps end strength by 9,000 troops, part of a multiyear plan to build up both services.

The measure also includes a host of policy changes and new mandates. It would elevate the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to a four-star post and limit equipment the military can buy from non-American companies.

The Senate is expected to begin deliberations on its version of the fiscal 2008 defense budget later this month. Both chambers have until the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, to work out a compromise on their separate measures.

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