Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will go before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, when he is expected to deliver budget amendments to Congress that will substantially increase the president's 2008 war spending to $200 billion from the approximately $150 billion that the administration initially estimated it would need in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The supplemental funding request is expected to include some $17 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (or MRAP) vehicles, which officials say will help step up production from the 82 MRAPs made in June to some 1,300 a month by December. The vehicles are designed to help deflect the effect of roadside bombs, also known as improvised explosive devices (or IEDs), which remain the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has ordered a total of 6,415 MRAPs to date—orders expected to be completed by March.
This week, Robert Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that he plans to attach "strings" to the supplemental war funding bill in an effort to bring troops home more quickly. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, vowed to fight such measures.
The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was $173 billion in fiscal 2007.