By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
March 6, 2007 – There are no shortcuts in Iraq, President Bush told members of the American Legion here today. During remarks, Bush said he is urging Congress to approve the defense budget request he submitted Feb. 5, which includes a $93.4 billion emergency supplemental measure to cover the cost of operations in the war on terror for fiscal 2007.
"Here in Washington ... the most pivotal question is whether the United States Congress will stand behind General (David) Petraeus (commander of Multinational Force Iraq) and our troops as they work to secure Baghdad," Bush said. "General Petraeus has my confidence, and he also has the confidence of the United States Senate."
According to documents released by the Defense Department, the supplemental request will provide $39.3 billion to sustain warfighting operations, including supplies, support and maintenance.
Congress has "a responsibility to fund our warfighters," Bush said. "I ask the Congress to approve the funds we requested and our troops are counting on without strings and without delay."
The president also said that supporting U.S. military veterans has been another high priority in his administration.
"This year I've asked Congress for more than $86 billion for veterans services, and if Congress approves my request, this would amount to a 77 percent increase of the budget since I took office," Bush said. "It would be the highest level of support for our veterans in American history."
Since 2001, over 1 million veterans have taken advantage of the Veteran's Affairs health care system, Bush said.
"The 2008 budget proposal will increase the VA health care budget by 83 percent since I took office," he said. "The Department of Defense's health care budget has grown from 19 billion to 38 billion.
"That's an important commitment, ... and I look forward to working with Congress to say to our veterans, 'We care about you,'" he said. "Money is one thing; delivery of services is another."
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