President Bush’s new budget will not fully fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, the White House plans to ask for “bridge” funds—enough to pay for the wars until the next president takes over. Though no official figure has been given, congressional estimates put the amount at less than half of what we spend on the wars in a year.
The White House confirmed Wednesday that its new budget next month will not request a full year’s funding for the war in Iraq, leaving the next president and Congress to confront major cost questions soon after taking office in 2009.
The decision reverses the administration’s stance of just a year ago, when President Bush’s budget made a point of spelling out in advance what he thought the costs would be for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for 2008. By comparison, the new budget, to be unveiled Feb. 4, requests only incremental “bridge” funding into 2009 and won’t sustain the military through the full length of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2009.
In confirming the decision, the White House refused to say precisely how much bridge funding will be requested for Iraq and Afghanistan in the new budget. But Republican and Democratic staffers in Congress predicted it would be between $70 billion and $80 billion—less than half the annual spending in recent years.