White House's $20.3 Billion Plan for Iraq

Published September 23, 2003

| Associated Press

President Bush (search)'s $20.3 billion proposal for rebuilding Iraq includes money to establish ZIP codes there, help Iraqi workers learn English and start a museum of former leader Saddam Hussein's atrocities, an administration document shows.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press, was distributed to members of Congress as the administration began its Capitol Hill defense of Bush's Iraq (searchpolicies. The $20.3 billion is part of Bush's $87 billion proposal for Iraq and Afghanistan (search), which is dominated by his $66 billion request for U.S. military activities in both countries and elsewhere.

"Creating a sovereign, democratic, constitutional and prosperous Iraq deals a blow to terrorists," L. Paul Bremer (search), the U.S. administrator in Iraq, told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

Since terrorists "thrive in chaotic environments with little or no effective government," rebuilding Iraq "will serve American interests by making America safer," Bremer said.

Bremer told the senators that so far, 61 countries have pledged $1.5 billion to help reconstruct Iraq, which U.S. officials estimate will cost $50 billion to $75 billion.

Congress is expected to approve something much like Bush's overall $87 billion plan with strong support from both parties, perhaps next month.

Even so, Democrats have criticized the $20.3 billion portion for Iraqi reconstruction, noting it comes as the United States struggles with record federal deficits.

The request "gave Americans sticker shock and awe," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a play on the name officials gave the U.S. bombing campaign that opened the war. "We don't have a lot of money in the bank. It is red ink."

Democrats also contrasted the proposal with their demands -- resisted by Bush -- for increased domestic security spending.

"The administration fought against a $200 million boost for America's police officers, firefighters and paramedics," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., told Bremer. "But Iraqi first responders would get $290 million."

Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, however, promised his full support and cast the plan as one that would serve American interests.

"The sooner a new Iraqi government is formed and effectively functions, the quicker our soldiers, sailors and all Americans can come home," Stevens said.

The administration's 53-page report, written by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority that runs Iraq, said Iraqi police "are supposed to be performing patrolling duties but are reluctant to do so as they have no means to call for assistance." It estimates the cost of establishing a communications network for police, fire and other emergency workers at $150 million.

In a recent coalition survey of 700 miles of power lines, one-fourth of the 2,554 towers were destroyed. Repairing them, building generating plants and otherwise re-establishing an electrical system will cost an estimated $2.9 billion, the paper says.

Other projects and their estimated costs listed in the report include:

--$9 million to modernize Iraq's postal system, including establishment of ZIP codes.

--$30 million to provide half-day classes in English for 5,000 workers.

--$1 million for a museum and information center to document past atrocities by Saddam's regime.

--$100 million to protect -- and perhaps relocate overseas -- 100 witnesses and their families who testify against former government officials, terrorist groups or organized crime figures.

--$67 million to hire, train and equip 20,000 guards to protect Iraqi government facilities.

--$100 million to retain 500 experts to investigate crimes against humanity by Saddam's former government.

--$99 million to build and modernize 26 jails and prisons for 8,500 inmates.

--$55 million for an oil pipeline repair team that can respond quickly to new reports of sabotage or other problems, as part of a $2.1 billion effort to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

--$130 million to construct 10 major irrigation and drainage projects.

--$125 million to rebuild railroad tracks.

--$100 million for housing, including starts of 3,528 new houses next year.

--$150 million to start building a new children's hospital in Basra.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2003/09/23/white-house-203-billion-plan-for-iraq