President Bush will ask Congress for up to $56 billion in additional spending next week to help pay for the war with Iraq, much of which will be covered by foreign contributions, administration and congressional sources said.
The request, which should be sent to Capitol Hill on Tuesday or Wednesday, also may include aid for Israel, congressional sources said Thursday. But they said that if it did, the amount would be nowhere near the $13 billion the Jewish state has said it needs in U.S. assistance.The $56 billion is considered a down payment, since the president is expected to make at least one more request once the costs of the fighting become clear, the sources said.
But a Pentagon official expressed optimism that foreign contributions ultimately would foot the entire bill for the war.
"I'm optimistic enough to say if the contributions come in as promised and the war comes to a successful and expeditious conclusion, we may not have that prospect" of seeking additional funds from Congress, the official said.
Congress is expected to show little reluctance to produce the added spending authority. Most complaints from lawmakers have focused on what they say have been inadequate U.S. efforts to round up financial assistance from allied countries.
A senior administration official said Bush's request would be for $56 billion to cover the war's costs for January through March. U.S. taxpayers would pay $15 billion of the amount, and the remaining $41 billion would be covered by foreign contributions, the official said.