WASHINGTON – Despite Democratic complaints that President Bush does not have a plan for Iraq and Afghanistan in the next year, the head of the House Appropriations Committee (search) said Monday the $87 billion he requested would soon be on its way.
"It is my intention to aggressively expedite the president's request for supplemental funds for the war on terrorism in Iraq and around the world," said Chairman C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla. "We have troops in harm's ways and we should provide them every resource available to ensure their safety."
Young said he was not expecting to get details of the request to be submitted by the Bush administration for at least a week, but would move quickly through the process once a formal submission was made.
In an address to the nation on Sunday, Bush said his military advisers had carefully calculated their needs for fighting the war on terror in the next year.
The money would supplement the Department of Defense's 2004 budget. Defense officials have said U.S. operations are costing about $3.9 billion monthly.
The president said he would request $66 billion from Congress to pay for military and intelligence in both Iraq and Afghanistan, of which $52 billion would go to Iraq and $11 billion for Afghanistan. Another $3 billion would go to help with "mobilization of coalition partners."
An additional $21 billion would pay for reconstruction and security, including training of police forces and the army.
"This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore to our own security," Bush said.
The president said the international community had a duty to make sure Iraq (search) was stable so that the Middle East did not become an "exporter of violence and terror."
"We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today, so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities," Bush said.
Democrats, some of whom are hoping to run against Bush in 2004, quickly said the president's remarks were too vague and there's still no clear exit plan for Iraq.
"He retreated to the same rhetoric about progress and peace that do not match the reality occurring every day in Iraq," said Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. "It is a country consumed with chaos, not a shining example of progress in the war against terrorism."
"The president offered glowing rhetoric but few specifics on how we will erase the mismanagement of this administration in Iraq," added Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in a statement.
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean said Bush had created a more dangerous situation in Iraq by not seeking international cooperation or having a post-war plan.
"It is nothing short of outrageous that the president spent 15 minutes trying to make up for 15 months of mismanagement," Dean said. Bush is "clutching at straws of misinformation."
Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said Bush finally recognized "he has been going down the wrong path" and now must begin "fully engaging our allies and sharing the burden of building a stable democracy in Iraq."
But others, even Democrats, agreed that American forces had a duty to see the reconstruction efforts through.
"We must, we must, keep this commitment in Iraq," said Sen. Joseph Biden (search), D-Del. "I will support him [Bush], I will support spending the money and I hope we decide that there's other ways to pay for it, as well as just adding to the deficit."
"If we are to protect American lives, retreat from Iraq is not an option," added House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search), R-Texas. "Winning the peace in Iraq is essential to winning the war on terror.
"Since 9-11, we've been at war for the survival of our nation," DeLay continued. "The president has told the world America's policy is nothing short of absolute victory."
Speaking just days before the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Bush said the United States cannot turn tail and run.
"The terrorists have cited the examples of Beirut and Somalia, claiming that if you inflict harm on Americans, we will run from a challenge," Bush said. "In this they are mistaken."
Bush sought to reassure Americans that skirmishes against coalition forces weren't the work of Iraqis in general but of loyalists to deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and foreign terrorists.
"We do know they have a common goal, reclaiming Iraq for tyranny," Bush said.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice (search) said Monday the additional money was badly needed and if Iraq is stabilized, "those costs will be won back over and over again."
"What we are now seeing is a central battle on the war on terrorism and these terrorists know it. That why they are going to Iraq," Rice said in a television interview.
Commerce Secretary Donald Evans (search) told Fox News on Monday the atmosphere around the White House was one of "confidence, it's determination, it's steady, it's focused ... that's the kind of leadership the president has provided since 9-11."
"He [Bush] will not rest, he will not tire, he will not change his focus until we win this war against terrorism," Evans continued. "We're going to provide our troops with the very best, whatever it takes to win the war."
Bush said northern and southern Iraq were generally stable but Iraq was still the "central front" in the war on terror, and its emergence as a democratic nation was pivotal to making the globe terror-free.
More Troops Needed
Currently, 130,000 American troops and 20,000 service members from 29 other countries are in Iraq. Britain, which already has 11,000 troops in Iraq, said Monday that it would send 1,200 more troops.
Bush said more U.S. troops are not needed. Two multinational divisions, led by the British and the Poles, are serving there; U.S. military commanders have requested a third multinational division.
The president has sought another U.N. Security Council (search) resolution; several nations have suggested that they would be willing to send forces if a resolution authorizes it.
Speaking in conciliatory tones to Security Council members who opposed the use of force in Iraq, Bush said they now have an opportunity and responsibility to make sure Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation.
"We cannot let past differences interfere with present duties. Terrorists in Iraq have attacked representatives of the civilized world, and opposing them must be the cause of the civilized world," he said.
Powerful countries that opposed the war in the first place — namely France, Germany and Russia — have said they were open to negotiations on the resolution but agreed that the United Nations should take more responsibility.
The resolution calls for a unified command under the direction of a U.S. commander — a major sticking point for countries that do not want the United States to maintain control.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., added that Bush has to explain why he waited so long to go to the U.N.
"We should not play into those hands by having this go-it-alone, Lone Ranger attitude, which the administration has had for much too long," Levin told Fox News.
"Whatever It Takes"
Republicans said Democrats should support the president.
"A lot of commonsense Democrats will join with the majority in Congress to do this work with the president," Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., said on Fox News' Hannity and Colmes.
"Either we move forward and guarantee that Iraq sets up a basis of democracy," he continued, "or we shrink back to retreat and those murderers and thugs and terrorists gain succor from that and they grow emboldened and return with more attacks like we saw on Sept. 11."
The U.N. draft resolution encourages the new Iraqi Governing Council (search) to submit a plan and a timetable for the drafting of a constitution and free elections.
"From the outset, I have expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi people to govern themselves," Bush said. "Now they must rise to the responsibilities of a free people, and secure the blessings of their own liberty."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.