Bush requests billions for wars
WASHINGTON – Setting up another confrontation with congressional Democrats over the war in Iraq, President Bush sent Congress a $45.9 billion emergency funding request Monday for expenses related to U.S. military campaigns.
The request, which comes on top of $147.5 billion sought by the administration earlier this year, pushes the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to more than $600 billion.
It also appears certain to further inflame tensions between the president and his Democratic critics on Capitol Hill, who are locked in a debate over federal spending bills as well as the war.
“Demanding nearly $200 billion for Iraq while vetoing health care for 10 million children exemplifies the Bush administration’s misplaced priorities,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday, referring to the president’s objection to spending $30 billion to expand a popular health insurance program for children.
Pentagon officials stressed Monday that the latest request focused on the most critical needs. The biggest single item is expanded production of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which the Pentagon hopes will better protect troops from roadside bombs than the widely used Humvee.
In July, the Pentagon requested $5.3 billion for the MRAP program. The request submitted Monday seeks an additional $11 billion for 7,274 vehicles.
Maintaining the presence of additional troops that are part of Bush’s “surge” will require $6.3 billion, defense officials said. Under the current plan, the final surge forces are due to leave Iraq in June.
The administration also is seeking more than $1.7 billion for medical care for wounded service members and $2.2 billion for international aid to Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan and elsewhere.