DAVID STOUT, New York Times, Published: October 22, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — President Bush asked Congress today for an additional $46 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to finance other national security expenses, setting off new verbal skirmishing with Congressional Democrats.
Reach of War
“These are urgent military necessities,” Mr. Bush said, declaring that the supplemental budget request “was prepared in close consultation with our commanders on the ground,” including the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.
“This funding is what General Petraeus and other military leaders say we need, and Congress ought to give it to them,” Mr. Bush said.
The numbers Mr. Bush mentioned were not a surprise, since Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said several weeks ago on Capitol Hill that the administration wanted about $42 billion more for war-related expenses. Another several billion dollars would go toward additional State Department security-related spending.
In February, the administration asked for $141.7 billion for the wars, warning at the time that the amount could increase later. Assuming today’s request is approved by Congress, the wars are now expected to cost taxpayers more than $190 billion for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.
“President Bush should not expect us to rubber-stamp his latest supplemental request,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratc majority leader, said in a statement. But the Democrats have so far been unable to translate their election victory last year into the power to change the president’s war policies.
Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, alluded to Mr. Bush’s veto of a children’s health insurance program as he criticized the president. “President Bush has made his priorities clear: health care for children is too expensive, but more of the same in Iraq is worth billions in debt,” Mr. Emanuel said.
By coincidence, Mr. Bush made his supplemental-budget request the same day a new audio recording, apparently of Osama bin Laden, was broadcast on Al-Jazeera. The voice on the recording urged Iraqi insurgents to unite. It was not immediately known whether the recording was authentic.
The Senate Democrats’ communications center, noting that the United States intelligence community has called Mr. bin Laden’s network the main terrorist threat to the United States, said today in a statement: “Instead of focusing on Bin Laden, the President is focused on policing an Iraqi civil war. Six years after 9/11, it’s time for us to put our eye back on the ball.”