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Bush Seeks Speedy Approval of $87 Billion Iraq, Terorrism Budget Request - 2003-09-09


The Bush administration is urging the U.S. Congress to act quickly on the president's request for $87 billion for military operations and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush says the money is necessary to win the war on terrorism, but officials acknowledge the emergency spending will have an impact on the federal budget deficit.

One day after he unveiled the $87 billion proposal, Mr. Bush was on the road. He left Washington for Nashville, Tennessee to deliver a speech on education and raise money for his re-election campaign. But it was clear the war on terrorism was very much on his mind.

"Our war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle. And neither is America," he said.

In remarks to a boisterous crowd of supporters at a campaign dinner, the president talked about the responsibilities facing the United States. He made no direct mention of the emergency spending request, speaking instead in general terms of the challenges before the nation.

"This country will not rest," he said. "We will not tire. We will not stop until this danger to civilization is removed."

On Sunday night, Mr. Bush told the nation that he will do what is necessary and spend what is necessary in Iraq and Afghanistan to win the war on terrorism. The bulk of his $87 billion request will be used for military operations, with the rest going to reconstruction projects.

The request is about twice the amount anticipated on Capitol Hill. And while Congress is expected to approve the money, there are already signs of a contentious debate ahead.

Democrats are saying they want a complete accounting of every dollar. Some wonder about the impact all this spending will have on the federal budget deficit.

The Bush administration acknowledges the $87 billion emergency spending request will increase the deficit in the new fiscal year that begins on October first. But a senior administration official is downplaying the long-term affect on the economy.

The official, who spoke on the grounds he would not be identified, says the deficit will rise in the coming year from $475 billion to at least $525 billion because of spending on the war on terrorism. But he says the increase is manageable. He told reporters no reductions in other government programs will be needed to offset this emergency spending and there will be no increase in taxes.

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