Obama uses tactic he opposed to get war funds

The Associated PressApril 10, 2009 

— President Barack Obama wants $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for special troop funding that he opposed when he was senator and George W. Bush was president.

Obama's request, including money to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since Sept. 11, according to the Congressional Research Service. The additional money would cover operations into the fall.

Obama is also requesting $400 million to upgrade security along the U.S.-Mexico border and to combat narcoterrorists.

Budget office spokesman Tom Gavin said the White House was to send an official request to Congress late Thursday.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, acknowledged that Obama has criticized Bush's use of similar special legislation. He said it was needed this time because the money is needed by summer, before Congress is likely to complete its normal appropriations process.

"This will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan. The process by which this has been funded over the course of the past many years, the president has discussed and will change," Gibbs said.

The outlines of the request were provided in documents presented at a closed-door congressional briefing.

According to the documents, obtained by The Associated Press, the request would fund an average force level in Iraq of 140,000 U.S. troops. It would also finance Obama's initiative to boost troop levels in Afghanistan to more than 60,000 from the current 39,000. And it would provide $2.2 billion to accelerate plans to increase the size of the U.S. military, including a 547,400-person active-duty Army.

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