The Washington Times characterized President Obama's war funding request as “the same type of supplemental war spending [he] opposed” during the Bush administration, ignoring the fact that Obama said he opposed certain supplemental spending bills in 2007 because they did not contain a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
In an April 10 Washington Times article, reporter S.A. Miller wrote, “President Obama asked Congress on Thursday for $83.4 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting him in the awkward position of requesting the same type of supplemental war spending he opposed as a senator when it was requested by President George W. Bush.” But Miller's characterization of Obama's war funding request as “the same type of supplemental war spending [Obama] opposed” during the Bush administration ignores a fundamental difference between the Iraq spending bills Obama opposed and the supplemental he is requesting: Obama said he opposed certain supplemental spending bills in 2007 because those bills did not contain a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, a provision opposed by President Bush at the time. Indeed, at the time, Obama voted for alternate Iraq spending bills that did contain such a timeline, which Miller also did not note in the article. In contrast with the bills he opposed during the Bush administration, since becoming president, Obama has, as Miller noted, “followed through on his promise for a U.S. pullout from Iraq, announcing plans for a near-complete withdrawal of combat troops by August 2010.”
In a May 24, 2007, statement explaining his vote against the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, Obama said: “With my vote today, I am saying to the President that enough is enough. We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly.” Indeed, while Obama voted against the 2007 supplemental spending bill, he voted for an earlier supplemental bill that included a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, which Bush vetoed. Moreover, while Obama voted against the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense on November 16, 2007, he voted in favor of the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, which contained a timeline for withdrawal.
Obama announced a timeline to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq in a February 27 speech.
From Miller's April 10 Washington Times article:
President Obama asked Congress on Thursday for $83.4 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting him in the awkward position of requesting the same type of supplemental war spending he opposed as a senator when it was requested by President George W. Bush.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the supplemental spending is necessary because funding is set to run out before the start of fiscal 2010 on Oct. 1 and the spending will make possible Mr. Obama's new war strategy.
“A supplemental is required in order to fund the new strategy in Afghanistan and fund the process in Iraq that will lead to a drawdown of all of our combat troops,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Short of finishing the appropriations process by Memorial Day, you wouldn't have any money for troops that are there.”
He said war spending will be included in the regular budget starting in 2010, which would end the Bush administration's practice of paying for the wars with supplemental spending bills that increase federal debt.
In 2007, Mr. Obama was one of 14 senators to vote against Mr. Bush's first $120 billion war supplemental spending bill, which was followed by one for $50 billion that Mr. Obama also opposed.
“This vote is a choice between validating the same failed policy in Iraq that has cost us so many lives and demanding a new one,” Mr. Obama said at the time. “And I am demanding a new one.”
Mr. Obama's staunch criticism of the Iraq war endeared him to the Democratic Party's liberal base and helped fuel his run for president. Once elected, he has followed through on his promise for a U.S. pullout from Iraq, announcing plans for a near-complete withdrawal of combat troops by August 2010.
Mr. Obama's request for $83.4 billion would push the cost of the wars to nearly $1 trillion since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service.