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Murtha Predicts $40 Billion Supplemental This Spring

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) predicted Wednesday that the House will take up a $40 billion supplemental this spring to assist the president in his Afghanistan war strategy.

“We’ll definitely put benchmarks in it and it will be $40 billion, I think. At least $40 billion,— Murtha told reporters.

That total is $10 billion more than President Barack Obama cited in his Tuesday night address, during which he laid out an Afghanistan war plan centered on sending 30,000 more troops to the region in the next six months. Murtha, who has raised concerns about the cost of Obama’s proposal, said his higher price tag covers the cost of “normal operating expenses— that the Defense Department hasn’t factored in.

“Last year, they didn’t even know about the TRICARE shortfall,— Murtha said, referring to health care services for military retirees. “My staff’s more right than they are. I tell them that all the time.—

The House’s top Defense appropriator said not to expect a bill until at least May or June, despite talk by some that the White House and the Defense Department are pressing for a package earlier in the year. That timeline also won’t have much impact on troops being sent overseas in March, months before a House vote to approve funds for their deployments, he said.

“If we’re going to stop the deployment, it’s not only money. I think Congress would have to pass a resolution. That’s not likely,— Murtha said.

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