WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama plans to request new funding from Congress for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he risks a backlash from antiwar lawmakers.
Mr. Obama is expected to seek congressional approval of $75.5 billion for the wars, perhaps as soon as Thursday. The issue is already raising tensions on Capitol Hill, especially among liberals who are sympathetic to the president's broader agenda but voice concerns about his timeline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq and his plans to beef up forces in Afghanistan.
"I can't imagine any way I'd vote for it," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat and leader in the 77-member congressional Progressive Caucus. It would be her first major break with this White House.
Ms. Woolsey fears the president's plan for Iraq would leave behind a big occupation force. She is also concerned about the planned escalation in Afghanistan. "I don't think we should be going there," she said.
Similar sentiments echo across the House. Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said he fears Afghanistan could become a quagmire. "I just have this sinking feeling that we're getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end," he said.
Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) dismissed Mr. Obama's plans as "embarrassingly naive," and suggested that the president is being led astray by those around him. "He's the smartest man in American politics today," Rep. Conyers said. "But he occasionally gets bad advice and makes mistakes. This is one of those instances."
The supplemental-spending request is intended to provide funding for the wars through the balance of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and into the early weeks of fiscal 2010. Beginning in fiscal 2010, Mr. Obama intends for the wars to be funded as part of the regular Pentagon budget. That is a change from the Bush White House, which annually sought war funding outside the regular military budget.
The bill is likely to run into political turbulence from more conservative Democrats as well. Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. John Murtha -- chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense -- has said he will look to add several billion dollars to the bill to boost spending on equipment.