Senate Agrees to $50-Million Bin Laden Reward

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday to increase the reward for Osama bin Laden's capture, or for information leading to his capture, to $50 million. The increase would be mandated by an amendment to a pending Defense Department authorizations bill.

Current law limits federal rewards to $25 million except when personally authorized by the Secretary of State "if he [or she] determines that offer or payment of an award of a larger amount is necessary to combat terrorism or defend the Nation against terrorist attacks."

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Bryon Dorgan (D-N.D.) and passed 87-1 Friday morning, adds language requiring the Secretary of State to authorize a $50-million reward in bin Laden's case. It also requires that the secretary of state and defense secretary submit progress reports on the hunt for bin Laden to Congress every 90 days.

The amendment will be tacked on to the National Defense Authorization Act covering FY2008. The bill and its proposed amendments are expected to be a major focus of Senate debate Friday and into next week.

As it passed the House of Representatives in May, the bill would authorize $641 billion for 2008 for the Department of Defense - including $142 billion military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - the Department of Energy, and for "other purposes," according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.

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