WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for a war
supplemental spending bill like the ones he sometimes opposed when he was senator and George W. Bush was president.
Obama’s request would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks against the United States, according to the Congressional Research Service. The additional money would cover operations into the latter months of this year.
Budget office spokesman Tom Gavin said the White House would send an official request to Congress Thursday afternoon. Congressional aides briefed on the request revealed its overall cost on condition of anonymity since the briefing was private.
Obama was a harsh critic of the Iraq war as a candidate, a stance that attracted support from the Democratic Party’s liberal base and helped him secure the party’s nomination. He opposed two infusions of war money in 2007 after Bush used a veto to force Congress to remove a withdrawal timeline from the $99 billion measure.
He supported a war funding bill last year that also included about $25 billion for domestic programs; he also voted to pay for the wars in 2006, before he announced his candidacy for president.
The coming request will include $75.8 billion for the military and more than $7 billion in foreign aid. Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against al-Qaida, would receive $1.8 billion in aid.
The measure would also finance Obama’s recently-announced plan to boost troop levels in Afghanistan.
The White House wants the bill sent to Obama for his signature by Memorial Day, May 25, said a House of Representatives Democratic aide.
Obama announced plans in February to withdraw US troops from Iraq on a 19-month timetable, with all troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
Obama’s request would push the amount approved for 2009 to about $150 billion, a drop from the $171 billion cost incurred in 2007 and the $188 billion approved for 2008, when Bush increased the tempo of military operations in a generally successful effort to quell the Iraq insurgency.