President Bush on Monday signed the $162 billion supplemental appropriations bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a move that will provide funding to the wars through the first month of the next president's term. According to CNN, the supplemental spending bill also contains a new GI Bill that expands education benefits for veterans who have served since the 9/11 attacks, provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and more than $2 billion in disaster assistance for parts of the Midwest that have been hit by record floods.

The bill also includes hard-fought for provisions for Gulf Coast rebuilding-$5.8 billion for Louisiana levees and $73 million for Gulf Coast housing vouchers to shelter physically and mentally disabled Katrina victims.

As Facing South reported last month, Sen. Mary Landrieu has been pushing legislators for more than two years to provide additional relief to the Gulf Coast. She said the funds from the bill will help a few thousand in New Orleans, but is concerned that much needed money for hospitals, police, and flood prevention was still cut from the final bill.

As Landrieu stated in a press release last week:

"This bill provides a foundation for some of the remaining recovery needs on the Gulf Coast, but the task is not completed. The House of Representatives unfortunately caved to White House demands and cut from this Supplemental critical funding the Senate had passed for our very real domestic emergency along the Gulf Coast. Gone are provisions to finally make our hospitals whole, to beef up our criminal justice system - much of which is still operating out of trailers - language to accelerate closure of MRGO. Also gone is the flexibility I added for Louisiana to pay back over 30 years its cost share for repairing the federal levees that broke in 2005. The House did, after a media onslaught, keep in the bill funding for 3,000 vouchers for extremely low income Louisianians who are seniors, disabled or both. It is a crucial provision that will go a long way toward keeping our most vulnerable population off the street."