Obama to Seek $83.4 Billion for Iraq, Afghan Wars

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Before he was elected, Barack Obama was a harsh critic of the Iraq war. He voted against then-President Bush’s war spending bill in 2007, after which Bush used his veto in order to force Congress to remove a withdrawal timeline from the $99 billion measure.

Now President Obama is asking for $83.4 billion for United States military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This amount would make the costs hit almost $1 trillion since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001.

In his decision to ask for more funds, President Obama cited threats from al Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban.

The official request will be sent to Congress on Thursday afternoon, said budget office spokesman Tom Gavin. Congressional aides briefed over the request in order to devise the overall cost in privacy.

The upcoming request will call for more than $7 billion in foreign aid and $75.5 billion for the military. Obama announced plans in February to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq on a 19-month timeline, but these additional funds would serve to extend the war into the fall.

If approved, the Obama push would bring the budget in 2009 to approximately $150 billion, a decrease from the $171 billion cost spent in 2007 and the $188 billion approved in 2008, when Bush increased the military operations in order to combat the Iraq insurgency.

“We face a security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that demands urgent attention,” he said in a letter to Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, urging lawmakers to approve his request swiftly.

“The Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border.”

The request also includes funding for other national security priorities of the administration, including assistance for anti-drug efforts in Mexico, security assistance in Lebanon and closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat, said he was very worried about by Obama’s plan to send tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan, and was not a guaranteed “yes” vote for the supplemental.

“I was against the war in Iraq from the very beginning, and I don’t want us to make the same mistake the second time,” McGovern told Reuters.

 

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