Congressional leaders, shaking off last weekend's divisive debate over authorizing the use of military force against Iraq, are rallying behind President Bush's decision to pull the trigger on Operation Desert Storm.
Within hours of the massive U.S.-led air strike Wednesday night, key members of the House and Senate expressed prayerful wishes for the safety of American fighting men and women in the Persian Gulf and a quick victory in the war."The thoughtful, but divisive, debate of last weekend is behind us," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., referring to Saturday's narrow votes of 52-47 in the Senate and 250-183 in the House to back Bush's request for authority to wage war against Iraq and drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
"And this is really the time now to unite all of us in support of the president and support of our troops," Lieberman added.
Top Democrats fought giving Bush such authorization while pushing a resolution to extend economic sanctions against Iraq but immediately supported the president upon learning of the attack.
"We must now pray for a conflict that ends quickly, decisively and with a minimum loss of life," House Speaker Thomas Foley, D-Wash., said in a statement.
"We have an overwhelming advantage in our aircraft, our smart weapons, our intelligence and communications," said Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "Our service men and women will be given all the resources to do the job. I believe that we will prevail in a matter of days or weeks."
- THE COST OF A WAR against Iraq could add from $28 billion to $86 billion to the military budget, according to a congressional analysis, and Senate Democratic leader George Mitchell predicted Congress would consider promptly any request for more funds.
The Congressional Budget Office, in a staff report, said that added costs for Operation Desert Storm would total between $17 billion and $35 billion in the current fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
The report also said there would be "large additional costs" in later years for replacement of equipment, adding that if the Pentagon wanted to replace all lost major weapons systems and munitions, the cost could skyrocket to between $28 billion and $86 billion.