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Bush seeks billions more for wars

  • Story Highlights
  • Senate majority leader estimates cost of Iraq war near $650 billion
  • Congress hasn't approved initial requests for $147 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan
  • In Monday announcement, president asks Congress to act on all requests
  • New request will cover armored vehicles, equipment repair, Pentagon says
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration on Monday asked Congress for nearly $46 billion in additional war spending for 2008, calling on U.S. lawmakers to approve the money before adjourning for the holidays.

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President Bush says Monday he is requesting billions more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Parts of this war are complicated, but one part is not -- and that is that America should do what it takes to support our troops and protect our people," Bush said in an appearance with members of veterans groups at the White House.

Most of the $45.9 billion request is for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the expected cost of those conflicts to more than $192 billion for the budget year that began this month.

The administration has already sought $147 billion for 2008. Most of that money goes to Iraq, which is currently costing the Pentagon an estimated $2 billion a week.

Bush said the money will cover basic operating expenses, plus additional armored vehicles and countermeasures designed to protect U.S. troops from roadside bombs.

"Congress should not go home for the holidays while our troops are still waiting for the funds they need," he said.

The president also called on Congress to finish the appropriations bills that fund the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs before lawmakers' holiday recess, set to begin in mid-November. Video Watch how much money is really at stake »

The request is bound to kick off another debate on Capitol Hill over the course of the Iraq war. Bush's last supplemental spending request led to a showdown with the Democratic leaders of Congress, who pushed for a withdrawal of American combat troops in 2008 -- a demand dropped after the president vetoed the measure.

Minutes after Bush spoke, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, warned the president not to expect Congress to "rubber-stamp" the latest request.

"In the coming weeks, we will hold it up to the light of day and fight for the change of strategy and redeployment of troops that is long overdue," Reid said.

He said the new request means the overall cost of the widely unpopular war now approaches $650 billion since the March 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"The entire war in Iraq is being paid for with borrowed money," Reid said.

He contrasted the Iraqi funding with Bush's October 3 veto of a $60 billion children's health care bill that had bipartisan support and would have been paid for by an increase in cigarette taxes. Bush called the bill too expensive and a step toward government-provided health care.

"It's no wonder the American people are frustrated," Reid said. "We've been fighting for America's priorities, while the president continues investing only in his failed war strategy. He wants us to come up with another $200 billion and just sign off on it -- that's what he said today."

The administration made the initial supplement request, which lawmakers have yet to approve, in February.

The original request submitted to Congress for $141.7 billion was followed by a $5.3 billion request to fund the purchase of more armored vehicles. Both of those requests total $147 billion.

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The latest request would cover more armored vehicles and repair of existing equipment that can be returned to the field, Pentagon officials said.

In addition to daily operations, the White House said the latest supplemental would fund about $1.7 billion in new spending on veterans' health care, $1 billion for military construction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan and another $1 billion for training Iraqi soldiers and police. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Barbara Starr and Kathleen Koch contributed to this report.

All About George W. BushIraq WarHarry Reid

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