Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle — the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee — is asking the Bush Administration to provide more information about the costs of future military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.Nussle says when the war on terrorism began, it was an emergency and Congress didn’t ask a lot of questions and wrote a blank check. Now that the war has progressed, Nussle says it’s time to review things. During a budget hearing yesterday, Nussle asked Pentagon officials to quickly provide an estimate of the costs of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year. Nussle says “this is not a time to give blank checks to anybody.” In April, Congress approved 62 billion dollars for the war effort and last night the House debated President Bush’s new request for another 87 billion dollars for Iraq.Nussle says there’s bipartisan support to provide the additional money for military operations, but Nussle says there’s “a real concern” about the 20-billion dollars for rebuilding Iraq. Nussle says he’s concerned that the U.S. would be giving Iraq a grant when other countries are collecting on loans made to Iraq when Saddam Hussein was dictator. Nussle says the U.S. needs to enter into “tough negotiations” with other countries to spread the cost of rebuilding Iraq rather than having the U.S. write a “blank check” and hope other countries come forward with money to help. Nussle says Russia, France and Germany need to forgive all outstanding loans to Iraq. Nussle says other countries should not have more of an advantage because they have loans outstanding compared to the grant President Bush wants to make to Iraq.
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