WASHINGTON – The White House is preparing to ask for as much as another $50 billion to pay for the war in Iraq, a signal that the Bush administration expects to maintain the current troop surge through the spring.
The Washington Post reports Wednesday that the money would be in addition to a $147 billion request that already is pending before Congress to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the two requests together are also in addition to the $460 billion 2008 fiscal year request for defense spending.
The level of spending would put the level of spending in Iraq at $3 billion a week, The Post said.
The Post, citing anonymous White House and congressional sources, said the spending request would reflect a White House more comfortable that Congress will not yank the rug out from underneath it when it comes to troop funding. The sources said the request does not include controversial provisions beyond paying for troop support and supplies to maintain the surge.
Congressional leaders had been expecting an additional funding request, but only on the order of about $30 billion.
In January, Democrats voiced outrage over President Bush's plan to increase combat troops in Iraq, which the president said was the best option available to stabilize Iraq and win the fight against insurgents. Democrats later failed to win enough support across the aisle to pass legislation mandating withdrawals.
The Iraq authorization bill passed earlier this summer, however, it required the top U.S. officials in Iraq to report to Congress on how Iraq's government is meeting key political benchmarks. That report is to be delivered by Sept. 15.
The administration is banking on the idea that once that report is given, Congressional Democrats won't have the support to thwart an ongoing troop surge through the spring.