Bush Asks for Nearly $75 Billion To Assist War Effort
Days after the United States launched a military attack against Iraq, the Bush administration submitted a nearly $75 billion emergency budget request March 25 to Congress to help cover war expenses during fiscal year 2003. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that additional war costs would be covered in future spending bills.
Rumsfeld told lawmakers March 27 that although the total cost of the war is unknowable at this point, $30.3 billion of the emergency request has already been spent or committed.
If Congress approves the request unaltered, the largest portion, almost $63 billion, would flow to the Pentagon. Most of the Pentagon’s slice, $53 billion, is devoted to mobilization costs for the Iraq war. An additional $3.7 billion would be used to replace munitions, such as laser-guided bombs and Patriot missile interceptors, used in the fighting. Another $1.1 billion is tabbed for procuring additional weapons and military equipment, including chemical and biological detection and decontamination gear. Classified activities would receive $1.7 billion.
The budget request reflects the Bush administration’s confidence that its military attack against Iraq will succeed. In addition to $2.4 billion for an Iraq relief and reconstruction fund, the proposal would authorize the president to divert as much as $50 million from Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs to secure and destroy Russian weapons of mass destruction. The money could be used to establish similar projects in countries outside of the former Soviet Union, and the request singles out Iraq as a potential case.
In a policy shift, the emergency budget request also calls for a repeal of the 1990 Iraq Sanctions Act. That act prohibits U.S. arms sales, other sensitive exports, and foreign assistance to Iraq. Moreover, the budget request includes a provision that would enable the president to export weapons to Iraq if he decides that it is in the national interest.
Of the funds requested for the Pentagon, $1.4 billion would be paid to countries that have backed the United States in its war on terrorism and, now, the war against Iraq. The request names Pakistan and Jordan as two potential recipients.
Countries supporting the U.S. action against Iraq would also be able to draw from an extra $2 billion pot of Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which provides military aid for foreign governments, and $2.4 billion in Economic Support Funds, which are generally untargeted cash transfers. Israel, which would be awarded $9 billion in loan guarantees through September 2005 in the emergency budget request, would receive the largest sum of additional military aid at $1 billion. That would be in addition to the more than $2 billion in U.S. military aid Israel already receives annually.
In addition to allocating funds in its emergency budget request for countries supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bush administration announced March 26 that it would expedite reviews of their requests for U.S. arms. The State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls pledged it would try to respond to proposed weapons buys from coalition partners within 48 hours.
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