WASHINGTON – President Bush and Congress have so far provided $191 billion for wars in Iraq (search) and Afghanistan (search) and defensive military operations at home, and about two-thirds of the money has been spent or is owed, White House figures show.
The numbers show that since the Sept. 11 attacks, lawmakers have provided $61 billion for U.S. military and reconstruction activity in Afghanistan, $119 billion for operations in Iraq, $10 billion for domestic military steps and $1 billion for other expenses such as rebuilding the damaged Pentagon.
Congress has enacted at least five bills providing money for the wars, covering the 2001 through 2004 government budget years. At each step, figures on the expenditures have been reported.
But the numbers provided this week by the White House Office of Management and Budget (search) represent the most comprehensive look at war spending that the administration has made available.
"The president has been very clear ... he will do what it takes to win the war on terror, and the war in Iraq is, as he's put it, the central front in the war on terror," Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the budget office, said in an interview this week.
Congress overwhelmingly has supported the war money, though it has opposed — with some success — administration attempts to control the funds with little input from lawmakers. But as the fighting in Iraq has dragged on, some lawmakers have challenged whether that operation is proceeding wisely.
"If you need to spend money to defend the country, you better doggone well do it," Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, a high-ranking Democrat, said in a recent interview. "But the idea we're reducing the terrorist threat with what we're doing in Iraq is preposterous."
Taken together, the $191 billion is more than double the $84 billion, in today's dollars, that the country spent for the 1991 Persian Gulf War (search). American taxpayers had to bear only $4.7 billion of that amount because of contributions and repayments by allied nations.
The figures exclude the $25 billion Bush requested this month for next year's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Administration officials have acknowledged that ultimately, his total request for 2005 will probably top $50 billion.
So far, legislator have provided $165 billion for military action. That is in addition to the annual budget the Pentagon receives for its other costs, which have grown rapidly under Bush and this year should exceed $400 billion.
An additional $25 billion has been for reconstruction activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
About 59 percent of the military funds and 85 percent of the rebuilding dollars have been for Iraq.
The figures show that through May 17, $123 billion, or 75 percent, of the military funds have been spent or committed to contracts.
About $9 billion, or 36 percent, of the reconstruction money has been spent or committed. Those expenditures have been slower because they are often for long-range projects such as building power stations, and because of security problems in both countries that have hampered work.
The domestic military expenditures are for combat aircraft patrols over U.S. cities and using reserves for strengthened security at domestic military bases.
The numbers exclude federal spending for domestic security, such as the new Department of Homeland Security. Such spending, which was $21 billion in 2001, hit $41 billion this year and Bush has requested $47 billion for 2005, according to a study last month by the Congressional Budget Office (search).
The White House figures also exclude anti-terrorism activities by the U.S. military in the Philippines and other countries.