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Bush Offers $3.2 Billion Supplemental Amendment; Aircraft Take Budget Hit

President Bush is proposing an amendment to the $100 billion war supplemental request that contains $3.2 billion in spending increases, including $769 million to cover the costs of sending 4,700 support troops to Iraq. This amount will be fully offset by what the White House has designated “lower priority” initiatives.

The Office of Management and Budget released the revisions Friday afternoon, three days after Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told the House Budget Committee that the Pentagon planned to send at least 4,000 logistical personnel to support the additional 21,500 combat troops currently being deployed to Baghdad and the Anbar province.

The administration also is asking to reallocate $272 million to cover the costs of deploying a new Brigade Combat Team consisting of 3,500 troops to Afghanistan.

A sizable share of the requested offsets are derived from aircraft procurement accounts, including a $388 million cut for five C-130Js cargo planes, a $389 million rescission for two Joint Strike Fighters and a $375 million cut for five EA-18G fighters.

At press time, House and Senate Appropriations Chairmen David Obey (D-Wis.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), respectively, had not responded publicly to the administration’s requested spending revisions. Obey likely will voice his thoughts on Thursday morning, when House appropriators consider the Democratic leadership’s supplemental legislation.

In a separate White House request sent to Congress on Friday, the administration asked to fully offset Obey’s and Byrd’s intent to provide $3.1 billion in supplemental funding for the Defense Department to implement the 2005 round of Base Realignments and Closures.

When drafting the fiscal 2007 joint funding resolution earlier this year, Obey and Byrd agreed to fund BRAC initiatives at $3.1 billion below the president’s budget request, allowing them to reallocate the money to domestic accounts and remain under the $873 billion discretionary cap. The chairmen assured their colleagues that they would replenish the BRAC funds in the supplemental, a move that Republicans criticized as a budget gimmick.

While Congressional Democrats are looking to boost domestic funding, the administration is eyeing these accounts for the BRAC offsets. The Department of Education would see an $891.7 million cut under the president’s proposal, including a $381 million reduction for Career and Technical Education State Grants.

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