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Bush to Request $75 Billion for War - 2003-03-25

President Bush Tuesday is to formally ask Congress for some $75 billion in emergency funds to help pay for the U.S.-led war to disarm Iraq. Congressional leaders received a preview from President Bush late Monday.

Lawmakers, eager to demonstrate their support for American troops, are expected to approve the funding quickly. Some Democrats, however, have begun questioning whether the package is big enough to cover the costs of waging war and rebuilding Iraq after the conflict.

"As we watched events unfold on our television screens in recent days, it became clearer than ever that more needs will arise because of the war, both in the short term and in the long term," says Senator Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat

Many Democrats and even some Republicans have been frustrated that the Bush administration did not make the emergency funding request earlier. U.S. officials argued that uncertainties surrounding the war made cost estimates difficult.

Lawmakers are considering the package as they complete work on Mr. Bush's $2.2 trillion budget request for next year and his proposed $726 billion tax cut plan.

Democrats, including Senator Kennedy, argue that the added costs of the war in Iraq make it the wrong time to pursue a budget with large tax cuts. "The narrow Republican majorities in the House and Senate are bent on rushing the budget through Congress quickly while public attention is preoccupied with the war," he says. "If it ever passes, this budget will be part of the collateral damage caused by the war, haunting us for years to come."

The House has already passed the President's budget and tax cut plan. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Wednesday.