Iraq War Costs Approach $567 Billion
Yahoo News/Bloomberg
Tony Capaccio
July 19, 2007

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of the war in Iraq will exceed the half-trillion dollar mark once Congress completes its work on a defense measure for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, the Congressional Research Service said in a report.

The defense budget for fiscal 2008 that's in various stages of congressional deliberation requests $141.7 billion to fight terrorism including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If Congress approves these requests, total funding would reach about $567 billion for Iraq, $157 billion for Afghanistan" with the remainder for enhanced U.S. homeland security, CRS analyst Amy Belasco said in a July 16 report released yesterday.

Spending for the effort against terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is on a course to reach $758 billion after the House and Senate complete work on their respective bills and negotiators agree on a final version later this year, the report said.

Belasco's report criticizes the Pentagon's bookkeeping, saying that for effective oversight, "Congress needs considerably better information" than has been provided.

"Grappling with these issues is more difficult because the Defense Department had provided limited information about prior war costs, making trends difficult to decipher and explanations unlikely to be available," she wrote.

"There are many unresolved discrepancies and gaps in reported Defense Department figures," Belasco wrote.

The amount of money Congress has approved for Iraq spending increased to $135.2 billion this fiscal year from $53 billion in 2003, when the war began.

The CRS figures reflect what Congress has authorized for the Iraq war, though not all the money has been spent yet.

The Senate temporarily suspended debate yesterday on its version of the defense bill after Senate Republicans blocked a proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, prompting Democrats to put off consideration of more measures to end the war.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at .

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