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Bush Asks Congress for $75 Billion for Iraq War - 2003-03-25

U.S. President George W. Bush is asking Congress for nearly $75 billion to pay for the war in Iraq and relief and reconstruction efforts during the next six months.

Some of the money would also be used for increased security against possible terrorist attack in the United States.

Mr. Bush made his request for a supplement to the federal budget following a military briefing at the Pentagon, where he said Congress must approve the additional funding within three weeks. "The need is urgent. The war-time supplemental is directly related to winning this war and to securing the peace that will follow this war," Mr. Bush said.

The president warned Congress not to add more spending to this request. Some Democrats have criticized the White House for not doing enough to help states and local governments pay for increased security.

Mr. Bush met with Congressional leaders Monday to discuss the costs of the war and reconstruction. A senior administration official says those efforts will also be funded by frozen Iraqi assets and profits from Iraqi oil sales.

More than 80 percent of the president's request to Congress would go directly to the war, including transport and maintenance costs, combat pay, and more cruise missiles and high-tech munitions to replace those currently being used in Iraq.

The president wants more than $2 billion for relief and reconstruction in the country and more than $5 billion to help offset the economic losses of neighboring states and coalition partners.

"Our campaign in Iraq involves assistance of coalition partners and friends in the Middle East. The funding request to Congress will help reduce the economic burdens these countries have experienced in supporting our efforts," Mr. Bush said.

A senior administration official said countries targeted for that aid include Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Turkey. Mr. Bush said the money will also help fund anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere.

He is asking for more than $4 billion for the Justice Department and the new Department of Homeland Security to provide extra protection in the United States, during what the president called this "period of uncertainty" and "heightened security."

"We will provide resources for patrolling and safeguarding our borders, funds to help the FBI investigate domestic threats in this time of war, additional funding for the Coast Guard for port security in the United States and in the Middle East," he explained.

The president's request is only for spending through the end of September and does not include what will likely be additional spending for the next fiscal year. The request ends weeks of speculation in Washington about the war's initial costs, amidst growing Congressional concern about paying for the president's 10-year, $726 billion tax cut.