The president's $2 billion weekend

On Thursday, the "surge" was supposed to cost $5.6 billion. Now it's going to be more.

Published March 6, 2007 3:02PM (EST)

When Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England appeared before the Senate Budget Committee Thursday, a number of senators expressed skepticism over the Bush administration's claim that George W. Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq would cost just $5.6 billion this year. England swore that the number was close to correct.

Sen. Robert Menendez: Mr. Secretary, I want to go -- I understand there was some discussion here before -- but I want to return to the costs of the escalation of the war, where the administration has asked for $5.6 billion. If the chairman were to put you under oath, would you say that that's the total cost of the escalation?

England: Yes, I would. I would have one proviso. I would say that it's a war we're in. So I mean, you know, things are going to change on the ground. Earlier we said the commanders, as they ask for some additional support personnel and things, and that's being evaluated by the chairman's office today. So there will be, constantly, some variation in this. But that's very close.

Things must have really changed on the ground over the weekend. As the Associated Press reports, the administration is now in the "embarrassing" position of having to go back to Congress for an additional $2 billion in Pentagon spending, much of it to help pay for the escalation that the $5.6 billion was already supposed to cover.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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