NPP Tallies Cost of War Through September 2009

FrontPage2$687 Billion for Iraq. $228 Billion for Afghanistan

Congress has appropriated another $84.8 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year ending September 30, 2009. The Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama on June 24, 2009, allocates $45.5 billion for war-related actions in Iraq and $39.4 billion to Afghanistan[1] [2].

War Cost of War Counters Updated

These new appropriations bring total war-related spending for Iraq to $687 billion and for Afghanistan to $228 billion, with a total war cost of $915.1 billion[3]. National Priorities Project (NPP) updated its Cost of War counters to reflect the new totals and to show the local costs of these wars to states and many cities. Please note that the cost of war in Iraq has decreased since our last estimate because Congress allocated a larger proportion of war spending to Afghanistan than originally estimated. NPP’s trade-off tool allows you to explore what services could be obtained for your community with the same amount of money that Congress has appropriated for war spending.

President Obama’s initial supplemental request (delivered April 2009) included approximately $77 billion for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was approximately 90% of all requested funding. The final supplemental request increased war-related spending by nearly $8 billion, yet total war spending now accounts for about 80% of supplemental spending.

Also in the Supplemental

In addition to $85 billion in war spending, Congress allocated $23 billion for other global military and diplomatic actions, as well as several domestic and international programs/initiatives. Among these are $7.7 billion for spending related to the H1N1 virus and general influenza pandemic preparedness; $1 billion for the program known as “Cash for Clunkers” to provide financial incentives to remove low fuel efficiency cars and trucks from the road; more than $6 billion for support of international peacekeeping, nonproliferation, narcotics control, and foreign military training outside of Iraq or Afghanistan; and more than $7.5 billion (the current equivalent of approximately 5 billion SDR[4]) for an increased quota payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It should be noted that the House rejected (429-2) President Obama’s supplemental signing statement which stated that restrictions attached to World Bank and IMF activities “would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the Congress prior to such negotiations or discussions. I will not treat these provisions as limiting my ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations.” President Obama has stated that he will limit signing statements to issues of constitutional concern only and not policy disagreements.

More Supplementals or Regular Budgeting?

Since 2001, U.S. wars and related activities have been funded through emergency supplemental appropriations rather than the regular budget appropriations process. An appropriations act is a law enabling government agencies to take on financial obligations as well as make payments on those obligations. Supplemental appropriations make additional monies available when the regular budget appropriations money is insufficient because of amount or because the activity was not funded at all (e.g., for something unanticipated during the budget process, such as the outbreak of the H1N1 virus).

President Obama called for war-related spending to be included in the regular budget process since it is an anticipated expense which should stand up to the rigors of the regular appropriations process. Indeed, the current administration has stated that this supplemental will be the last one to include war funding. That said, Representative John Murtha, Chair of the Defense Appropriations Committee, indicated that Congressional budget allocations are insufficient to incorporate the $130 billion in anticipated war-related costs for 2010 into baseline budget requests. NPP will follow this issue closely — whether war funding becomes part of the core Pentagon budget, happens once again through a supplemental as Murtha opines, or presents as any other off-budget process that is not limited by spending constraints.

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[1] Of the Congress-approved supplemental spending, NPP analyses show that $84.8 billion is for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes Department of Defense provisions including Military Personnel, Operations & Maintenance, Procurement, and Military Construction; Department of State provisions including Diplomatic and Consular Programs and Economic Support; and Department of Justice provisions.

[2] Previous NPP analyses have attributed 80% unspecified war funding to operations in Iraq and 20% to operations in Afghanistan. In light of the troop level reductions announced thus far for Iraq and increases announced for Afghanistan in 2009, we have made new estimates of approximately 58% unspecified funding to Iraq and 42% to Afghanistan.sundance3402

[3] Total war funding to date includes all approved funds for Afghanistan since FY2001 plus all approved funds for Iraq since FY2003. See CRS Report RL33110 May 2009.

[4] The International Monetary Fund created the Special Drawing Right (SDR) in 1969 to support the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. Each currency has its own exchange rate and the current rate for the U.S. dollar is approximately 1.55 U.S. dollars to 1 SDR.Φ

National Priorities Project (NPP) is a 501(c)(3) research organization that analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent. Located at 243 King Street, Suite 239, Northampton, MA, 01060, since 1983, NPP focuses on the impact of federal spending and other policies at the national, state, congressional district and local levels.

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