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Rumsfeld Seeks Extra Funds for War Bills

ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

May 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - With war bills to pay, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is calling on Congress to pass President Bush's request for an extra $65 billion to cover costs in Iraq and Afghanistan this year.

His scheduled appearance Wednesday before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee was his first public testimony on Capitol Hill since retired generals issued a series of calls for Rumsfeld to resign earlier this spring. Rumsfeld, with strong public backing by Bush, appears to have weathered that storm.

It also was Rumsfeld's first opportunity to comment on Bush's announcement Monday that he is sending 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S. southern border to support the federal Border Patrol. The administration has not said how much it expects that to cost, nor has it set a hard time limit on the assistance.

Although the Guard troops will be operating under state governors' control, the cost will be paid by the federal government.

Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff said Tuesday that Rumsfeld planned to tell the appropriations panel that Iraq has entered a "hopeful new phase" following a successful election last December and progress in recent weeks toward assembling a unity government.

"We will be talking about defense spending in terms of how we view the global war on terror and why there is reason for optimism in Iraq," Ruff said.

Rumsfeld has stressed several times in recent weeks the importance of getting congressional approval for the extra $65 billion in war costs. About half of that is for the cost of conducting the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq; about $5.9 billion is for developing Iraqi and Afghan security forces, and $1.9 billion is for countering the threat posed by roadside bombs, which are a leading killer of U.S. troops.

The government has so far provided about $368 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and global operations against terrorism, according to the Congressional Research Service, Congress' nonpartisan research arm. That includes military, foreign aid, reconstruction and veterans spending.

That does not include the $65 billion the administration has requested for the rest of this year, or the $50 billion it has proposed for the beginning of next year.

Of the money approved so far, the research service estimates that $261 billion was for Iraq and $77 billion for Afghanistan and worldwide operations against terrorism, with most of the rest for improving security at U.S. military bases.

___


:: Article nr. 23354 sent on 18-may-2006 02:34 ECT

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Link: news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060517/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/rumsfeld_1



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