War in Iraq could cost $9 billion per month


Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2002 at 10:27 p.m.
WASHINGTON - Congress' top budget analyst estimated it could cost the United States up to $9 billion a month to fight Iraq, as the Senate prepared for debate as early as Wednesday on a resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Saddam Hussein.
Monday's report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said uncertainty about the length and intensity of a U.S. effort to remove the Iraqi leader made the total price tag of such a conflict unpredictable.
"Whatever forces are used, unknown factors abound in considering how a conflict with Iraq would actually unfold," the paper said.
But the analysis made clear that the overall cost of a confrontation would amount to many billions of dollars beyond the $6 billion to $9 billion monthly estimated cost for combat by either heavy ground or air forces.
Besides combat expenses, the budget office said the war could also cost:
  • From $9 billion to $13 billion to deploy U.S. forces to the Persian Gulf;
  • $5 billion to $7 billion to get them home after a war, and
  • From $1 billion to $4 billion monthly to occupy Iraq with U.S. peacekeeping troops, excluding other costs such as humanitarian aid, rebuilding the country and dismantling weapons.
    The figures excluded expenditures that would be made if no conflict were under way, such as soldiers' salaries.
    Democrats used the estimate to argue that if the U.S. commits to a long-term occupation that would include humanitarian aid and rebuilding, it could be an expensive commitment. Such activities could push the price tag into the $100 billion to $200 billion range that White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey estimated two weeks ago, and that would squeeze other parts of the budget, Democrats said.
    "Congress is committed to providing all the resources needed to safeguard America's security," said Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "But this CBO estimate is a warning that the costs of the war means we may need to reconsider other budget priorities."
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