WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Thursday it will ask Congress for $120 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If approved by Congress, the war money would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars.
Details of the requests are not final, but the 2007 budget proposal that President Bush will submit next week will reflect the totals for planning purposes. The president also will ask Congress to devote an additional $2.3 billion this year to prepare for a bird flu epidemic.
About $70 billion of the new war money will be requested for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, bringing total spending on the two campaigns to $120 billion for the current budget year. The other $50 billion in new war money will be set aside in the 2007 budget for the first few months of the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. More money will likely be needed in 2007.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that $320 billion has been spent on Iraq and Afghanistan since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including $50 billion that Congress sent Bush in December.
Administration officials said the new figures were estimates.
Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the White House’s budget office, said the administration was “trying to balance the desire for transparency and accurate estimating with the unpredictable nature of war and the needs on the ground.”
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the requests reflect the president’s desire to “commit the resources that are necessary to fight and win the war on terrorism.”
The requested money would cover troop salaries and benefits, repairing and replacing equipment, supporting U.S. embassies in the two countries and taking on the insurgency. It would cover the costs of continuing to train Iraqi and Afghan security forces and protect U.S. troops.
Kaplan said the $50 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan for 2007 is a placeholder and he suggested that the combined costs of the two campaigns could be different.
“We’re still in the process of working out the details,” he said.
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