President Bush Asks for $75 Billion to Fund War

The president said the request was crucial to funding the fight to unseat Iraqi president Saddam Hussein as well as other domestic and foreign anti-terror initiatives.

“We cannot know the duration of this war, yet we know its outcome: We will prevail, the Iraqi regime will be disarmed, the Iraqi regime will be ended, the Iraqi people will be free and our world will be more secure and peaceful,” the president said.

The president’s entire package — which does not cover costs beyond 2003 — includes some $63 billion necessary to maintain a “fully equipped military force, both active-duty and reserve” in Iraq and other regions for at least five months; $7.85 billion for international aid and relief; and $4.24 billion for homeland security.

The total price tag is based on the administration’s conclusion in recent days that the Iraqi government headed by Saddam may not collapse as quickly as previously anticipated, a senior defense official said during a background briefing on Monday night.

The supplemental would direct $2.4 billion for reconstruction and humanitarian relief projects in Iraq, assuming coalition forces successfully oust Saddam.

Mr. Bush said Tuesday that the funding would help “reduce the economic burdens” experienced by countries supporting the U.S. mission in Iraq, as well as U.S. allies in “the broader war on terror, which continues in Afghanistan, in the Philippines, and elsewhere,” the president said.

Several Latin American nations, such as Colombia, were included in the proposal. In sum, coalition allies, such as Pakistan and Jordan, would receive $1.4 billion.

“We have troops standing watch in other parts of the world to protect and maintain the peace. All the members of the military … are bound together by a great cause: to defend the American people and advance the universal hope of freedom. America has accepted this responsibility. We also accept the cost of supporting our military and the missions we give it,” the president said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) told reporters Tuesday that Congress would try to move quickly on the measure.

However, some lawmakers said after a Monday meeting with the president that the supplemental didn’t accurately reflect the costs of the war and its aftermath, and that the president would likely need additional funding.

“This is just the beginning. This is the first down payment, and the American people have the right to know that,” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said.