The Obama administration will ask Congress for another $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of September, Democratic congressional sources said Thursday.
The request is expected to pay for those conflicts for the rest of the 2009 budget year, two Democratic congressional sources said. About $75 billion of that would pay for military operations, with the rest going to diplomatic programs and development aid. The additional money is needed “to fund the new strategy in Afghanistan and fund the process in Iraq that will lead to a drawdown of all of our combat troops,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Since coming to office in January, President Obama has announced plans to shift troops out of Iraq and beef up U.S. forces in Afghanistan, where American troops have been battling al Qaeda and Taliban fighters since al Qaeda’s 2001 attacks. The money would bring the running tab for both conflicts to nearly $800 billion, according to figures from the House Appropriations Committee. Most of that money has been spent in Iraq, where most of the U.S. troops have been deployed and where the Pentagon estimated its costs at roughly $10 billion a month by October. Last month, Obama announced the United States’ plan to withdraw most of its troops from Iraq by the end of August 2010. A residual force of between 35,000 to 50,000 troops will remain until December 31, 2011. There are 142,000 American troops in Iraq now. In Afghanistan, Obama has ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops to fight the Taliban in the south and east and 4,000 more to train Afghan troops. The measure is likely to be the last supplemental request submitted to Congress to pay for the wars. Obama began including war spending in his 2010 budget, but the Bush administration relied on supplemental spending bills to fund the conflicts.