House Readies More War Funding
June 17, 2005
The House of Representatives on Thursday considered an additional $45 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan next year on a presumption that U.S. troops will need the money to defeat insurgencies and defend the nascent democracies there.
Although the measure came up late Thursday, the House postponed a vote on it until Monday. The money would be above the $82 billion approved for the same purpose in May.
President Bush did not request the additional money, which is being added to the Defense Department budget rather than approved separately, as has been done in the past.
Since the 9/11 attacks, Congress has given the president $350 billion to fight terrorism and for combat and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That matches the cost of the Korean War in today's dollars, according to Steven Kosiak, director of budget studies for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. It also translates into $1,180 per person in the USA.
The Senate Armed Services Committee last week agreed to add $50 billion in war spending to the fiscal 2006 defense budget bill.
A bipartisan group of House members cited the Iraq war's higher costs and rising death toll Thursday as it introduced a resolution to require the White House to devise a timetable to bring the troops home.
But White House press secretary Scott McClellan said timetables send the wrong message.
"They send the wrong message to the terrorists. They send the wrong message to the Iraqi people. They send the wrong message to our troops who are serving admirably and working to complete an important mission," he said.
In Iraq, political leaders ended a stalemate and agreed to put more Sunni Muslim Arabs on the committee that will write the country's new constitution. But an insurgency continues to kill civilians daily, and the Pentagon has said the Iraqis are not yet ready to handle the fight alone.
In Afghanistan, elections have ushered in a democratic government, but warlords still control many parts of the country.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged patience.
"Now, I do think that we owe to the American people to say again and again that this is not going to be an American enterprise for the long term. This is going to be an Iraqi enterprise," she said.
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