By Travis Sharp, Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation
Also posted atÂ Iraq Insider
I figured surely, surely, with all of 2007 to consider how to slap restrictions on Bush's Fiscal Year 2008 war money, the Democrats would find a way to wind the war down without risking the safety of troops in the field.
I figured wrong. After spending much of the year hand-wringing, Congress today gave President Bush a $70 billion dollar blank check for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. No "goal" date for U.S. withdrawal. No stipulations for specific missions. Nothing.
What does that mean in the bigger picture? Go read my full analysis if you want the numbers and legislative highlights in the $70 billion bridge. Below are the key points about what a monumental day this is in terms of funding the war:
COST OF WARS TO DATE
Prior to passage of the FY2008 $70 billion "bridge" fund, the Congressional Research Service estimates that Congress had enacted $626 billion in war funding. This total includes $16.8 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAP) provided in the first Continuing Resolution (passed September 27) and the FY2008 Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 3222).
With passage of the FY2008 $70 billion "bridge" fund, total war funding approved by Congress will reach nearly $700 billion to date. This cumulative total of $696 billion breaks down as approximately $505 billion for Iraq and $140 billion for Afghanistan.
If Congress approves the administration's full $196 billion FY2008 request, total war funding will surpass $820 billion since September 11, 2001. This total breaks down as approximately $607 billion for Iraq and $164 billion for Afghanistan.
(NOTE: Breakdown of respective funding proportions for Iraq and Afghanistan is based on Congressional Research Service estimates. See "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," updated November 9, 2007, available online).
COSTS IN PERSPECTIVE
With passage of the FY2008 $70 billion "bridge" fund, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...
...surpasses the total cost of the Vietnam War (which ran to $670 billion) in inflation-adjusted dollars.
...is more than seven times larger than the Persian Gulf War ($94 billion) in inflation-adjusted dollars.
...is more than twice the cost of the Korean War ($295 billion) in inflation-adjusted dollars.
...will become the second costliest conflict in American history. Iraq and Afghanistan trail only World War II, but that was a time when 12 million Americans served, as compared with 1.42 million active duty soldiers and just over one million National Guard and reservists today.
(NOTE: Previous war costs based on Congressional Research Service estimates. See Amy Belasco testimony before the House Budget Committee on October 25, 2007, available online).