Washington: President Barack Obama has pitched for $83.4 billion for military operations to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” Al-Qaeda and Taliban threatening the US from their safe havens along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, asking lawmakers to urgently approve his “last” supplemental funds to fight terrorism.
“We face a security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that demands urgent attention. The Taliban is resurgent and Al-Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border,” Obama wrote in a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, seeking early approval for his war supplemental request of $83.4 billion.
“Nearly 95% of these funds will be used to support our men and women in uniform as they help the people of Iraq to take responsibility for their own future -- and work to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Obama said in his letter on Thursday.
He assured the Congress that his funding request will ensure that the full force of the US -- military, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic power -- is engaged in an overall effort to defeat Al-Qaeda and uproot the safe haven from which it plans and trains for attacks on the US and its allies.
In a statement, Pelosi said Obama’s request would be looked into carefully and Congress would “engage in a dialogue with the administration on appropriate benchmarks to measure the success of our investments.”
“... We are increasing our troop commitment, we will employ the necessary civilian resources to build Afghan governance capacity and self-sufficiency,” Obama said in the letter.
Though the US Congress since September 2001 has approved 17 separate emergency funding amounting to $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama said this would be the last supplemental request coming from the White House.
“After seven years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations. We must break that recent tradition and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending,” he argued.
“We should not label military costs as emergency funds so as to avoid our responsibility to abide by the spending limitations set forth by the Congress,” he said, adding that after years of budget gimmicks and wasteful spending, it is time to end the era of irresponsibility in Washington.
In June last year, Congress approved $66 billion in advance 2009 funding for military operations. The Pentagon would receive $142 billion in war funding for the fiscal ending on 30 September.