WASHINGTON — The House rejected a $163 billion war supplemental plan Thursday, with Republicans taking the unusual tack of refusing to vote for a measure they believed was headed for a presidential veto.

The measure, which included nearly $100 million for combat operations this fiscal year, was defeated by a 149-141 vote. Another 132 Republican members simply voted "present" on the measure, declining to give it the push it needed to pass.

Pentagon officials have said the money is needed by mid-June to make sure military pay and supplies aren’t disrupted. But Republicans said Thursday’s Democratic proposal was too complex and financially bloated to support.

"We’re playing political games on the backs of our troops," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "All this is going to do is delay the process for weeks. You know the president will not sign this."

President Bush has pledged to veto any war budget bill which goes above the $108 billion he has asked for in this fiscal year.

Anti-war Democrats also voted against the measure, leaving the military money stalled for at least one more week. Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee debated a similar war supplemental simultaneously with the House vote, and that measure is expected to come before the full chamber next week.

But the Senate version — a $193 billion bill with items on immigration, energy assistance grants and other non-war spending — also faces the threat of a White House veto.

The House did approve a separate provision requiring all U.S. troops be pulled from Iraq by December 2009 by a 227-196 vote, although Democrats acknowledged the language likely would not survive Senate debate. Similar legislation has been rejected by the chamber in past.

And the House also approved a plan to boost education benefits for all current servicemembers, but fell short of a veto-proof margin with a 256-166 vote.

The education plan, based on a legislative proposal from Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., would guarantee full tuition for all in-state universities and a $1,000 monthly living stipend for all veterans who served a full military tour since 2001.

Current benefits cover less than $1,100 a month in tuition, and allot no money for living expenses. Veterans groups have lobbied heavily in recent weeks to improve those benefits, mostly backing the Webb proposal.

But the White House, Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs have all opposed the plan, instead favoring a different GI Bill overhaul which would allow growing and transferring benefits based on troops’ length of service.

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