Bush wants $46 billion more for Iraq by Christmas

President Bush asked Congress for $46 billion more to bankroll wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said he wants the money approved by Christmas. The fighting in Iraq, in its fifth year, already has cost more than $455 billion.

President Bush asked Congress for $46 billion more to bankroll wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said he wants the money approved by Christmas. The fighting in Iraq, in its fifth year, already has cost more than $455 billion.

Democrats who gained control of Congress with an antiwar message said Bush should not expect lawmakers to rubber-stamp the request.

“The colossal cost of this war grows every day–in lives lost, dollars spent, and to our reputation around the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “The American people long ago rejected the president’s planned 10-year occupation of Iraq and want the administration to provide a concrete plan to bring our troops home.

“The choice is between a Democratic plan for responsible redeployment of our troops and the president’s plan to spend another trillion dollars for a 10-year war in Iraq. We must end this war.”

Announcing his latest request, Bush alluded to the nation’s disenchantment with the war, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,830 members of the U.S. military and more than 73,000 Iraqi civilians.

“Our men and women on the front lines should not be caught in the middle of partisan disagreements in Washington,” the president said.

Monday’s proposal brings to $196.4 billion the total requested for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere for the budget year that started Oct. 1. It includes $189.3 billion for the Defense Department, $6.9 billion for the State Department and $200 million for other agencies.

With stepped-up military operations, the war is costing about $10 billion a month.

The White House originally sought $141.7 billion for the Pentagon to prosecute the Iraq and Afghanistan missions, then asked for $5.3 billion more in July. Bush’s latest request includes another $42.3 billion for the Pentagon.

For the State Department, Bush more than doubled his initial $3.3 billion request, adding $3.6 billion for a total of $6.9 billion. The updated request includes money for peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, battling drug trafficking in Latin America, fighting famine in Africa, assisting Iraqi refugees, and the Palestinians.

Top House lawmakers have said they do not plan to act on Bush’s request until next year, but they anticipate providing interim funds when completing a separate defense funding bill this fall. Bush said failing to approve the money would directly affect the effectiveness of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I know some in Congress are against the war and are seeking ways to demonstrate that opposition,” Bush said. “I recognize their position and they should make their views heard. But they ought to make sure our troops have what it takes to succeed.”

“Congress should not go home for the holidays while our troops are still waiting for the funds they need,” he said.

Bush said most of the funding request, crafted in consultation with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is for day-to-day military operations. Congress already approved more than $5 billion for new vehicles whose V-shaped undercarriages provide much better protection against mines and roadside bombs. It’s likely that Congress will quickly grant $11 billion more to deliver more than 7,200 of the vehicles.

The delays in submitting the remaining war funding request were in part due to unease among congressional Republicans about receiving it during the veto override battle involving a popular bill reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“President Bush wants us to rubber-stamp another $200 billion in war funds–all borrowed money, none of it paid for-for next year alone,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

“But when we sent a bipartisan CHIP bill to his desk to provide health insurance for the children of working families, the president called it too expensive. Let’s remember, every dime of the money for CHIP was paid for,” said Reid.

White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said the president did not think it was too costly, but that he wanted to restore the program to its original intent. Over the years, several states have gotten permission from the federal government to expand the program to adults and children from middle-income families.

“He didn’t say that it’s too expensive-although it is too expensive to spend money on the wrong policy,” Fratto said.

Bush made his war-spending request in the Roosevelt Room after meeting in the Oval Office with leaders of veterans service organizations, a fallen Marine’s family and military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Bush is delivering a speech on missile defense and other components of his defense strategy. His remarks at the National Defense University in Washington are to cover the wars, the Patriot Act, terrorist surveillance and nuclear proliferation.