war spending


Approving more cash for the war in Iraq is usually a bi-yearly event; Congress normally okays money for the the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as part of its yearly budget and then passes a second "supplemental" or "emergency" spending bill to top off the rest of the wars' spending needs.

The last infusion of cash for the wars came in December 2007, when Congress approved $70 billion as part of '08s budget. The administration is now asking for about $175 billion to top off '08s war bills and start paying for '08; in spite of minor political tussling in the House, Congress will likely okay the additional funding before summer '08. (WP)

The total costs of war. With differing dollar amounts on the costs of Iraq bandied about by politicians and the press, it's not always easy to keep track of how much we're spending. To help clear the haze, citizenJoe offers a breakdown of numbers from, GlobalSecurity.org, the National Priorities Project, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Congressional Budget Office (pdf), Congressional Research Service (pdf) and the Council on Foreign Relations. Sorry to say, they don't always add up, but they're generally in the same sports complex, if not ballpark.

  • How much money Congress has approved so far for:

    • Iraq: $630-$673 billion. That includes:

      • $123-128 billion Congress approved in 2003,

      • $21 - 25 billion in tide-over funds approved in 2004,

      • $70 billion from funds approved in May 2005 (we're not including the $5 billion that went to "transforming" the military); (WP)

      • $50 billion (about) approved in December 2005 as part of the 2006 defense budget bill,

      • A ballpark figure of $60 billion in June 2006. Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan received $66 billion together - but cJ couldn't find a break-down of how much went to each.

      • Another ballpark number of $60 billion in September 2006 (again, the papers reported $70 for the combined wars). (WP)

      • Yet again, the papers report a $100 billion funding bill for the combined wars in May, 2007. We'll call it $90 billion for Iraq. (WP)

      • Congress added $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan onto the '08 budget (in December '07. We'll say $60 billion for Iraq. (WP)

      • In June '08, Congress okayed $162 billion to cover the wars through to summer '09 - in a package, HR 2642, that also added $63 billion for GI education (over 11 years), extensions to unemployment support ($8 billion over 11 years) and other domestic measures. (WP) Since the Afghanistan war is heating up, let's say $130 billion is paying for Iraq.

      • Next infusion? Secretary of Defense has told Congress he'll need another $76 billion to cover the wars through the end of fiscal year '09 (which ends in October). As of early June, Congress looks set to help him out with $80 billion (NYT).
      • Note: A January, 2009 CSBA report puts the total cost of the Iraq war so far (or at least approved by Congress) at $687 billion. (CSBA - pdf)

    • Afghanistan: To be frank, we lost track. Luckily, the CRS and CSBA didn't: in February 2008 CRS estimated that the Afghanistan war and related counterterrorism missions have cost $140 billion (CRS - pdf); CSBA put the total allocated costs (through early 2009) at $184 billion (CSBA - pdf).

  • How much a year (again from CRS - pdf):

    • $53 billion in 2003

    • $76 billion in 2004

    • $85 billion in 2005

    • $102 billion in 2006

    • $133 billion in 2007

Updated April 19, 2009

Did we miss something, let some slant slip in, lose a link - or do you just have something to say? Drop a line below! In the spirit of open dialogue, cJ asks you keep it civil, keep it real and keep it focused on the message, not the messenger. See our policy page for more on what that all means.

Posted In

It's amazing how Congress

It's amazing how Congress will easily approve spending for a war, but when we want to make Americans healthy, they turn into a bunch of tight wads.

cdrates (not verified) | November 4, 2009 - 8:11pm

I would hope these

I would hope these expenditure figures will change as we transfer security burdens over to Iraqi forces. This should significantly lower our operational costs in Iraq...but will that money be used for the weakened fight in Afghanistan. I would hope that as our mission in Iraq comes to an end in the next two years, we will be able to see significant progress on the Afghan front. It will take extra help from the nations surrounding Afghanistan to win over the Afghani population's hearts and minds.




Immigration lawyer

frankb344 | March 17, 2009 - 4:28pm

Why do we not ask about job creation

My question is that for this 10 Billion dollars that is spend in Iraq and is such a sour note why do we not ask what it is spend on. Yes we say it is spend for the war and some for reconstruction.

It takes money to make war but it also creates jobs.

1) Salaries for troops

2) Bonus for signing contract to be inlisted.

3) Building new weapons

4) Security forces to protect Iraq individuals

5) Rebuilding with our products (Home Depot and Lowe's and Wallmart)

6) Contractors doing the building of these new buildings


So much more and so far all this money is right back in American hands.


I have talked to so many soldiers that says that they see these people now walking around with Dell computers and I pods. Are these not American companies that is now getting new business.


I know that there is a lot to hate in the fact that we are over there spending our money to better these peoples lives but are we not missing the big picture that we are creating a new market that we are benifiting in every way.


Just wanted to know

a random Joe (not verified) | October 21, 2008 - 1:13pm

war spending bill

Why do you characterize a possible senate action of stripping the ban on torture language as setting things right?
Please unsubscribe me.

a random Joe (not verified) | May 19, 2008 - 1:16pm
talker's picture


Apologies - that was our sarcasm that - clearly - fell flat. (I think the term that I've heard coined is sarchasm).

The reader is referring to a weekly Capitol Hill update in which we mentioned how voting on a war funding bill in the House did not go as the House leadership planned - leaving a final vote that banned torture and set a timeline for bringing the troops home, but not did not, actually, fund the war.

We then said the Senate would "set things right" by, essentially, reversing the House's vote. This was our - possibly inappropriate - sense of humor. By "setting things right" we weren't referring to what we think is right but what the congressional leadership (and the guardians of status quo) had planned from the get-go.

Apologies. Perhaps cJ has become a little cynical - but, you're right, we should try to not let that cynicism bleed (too much) into our editorial.

talker | May 20, 2008 - 8:14am

supplemental spending bill

Isn't Congress now looking at $172 supplemental spending bill for Iraq?

a random Joe (not verified) | April 28, 2008 - 2:40pm
talker's picture


Congress Daily puts the number at $108 billion for the rest of '08 and $70 billion to start off '09.

The bill will also probably pick up a lot of extras - possibly $12 billion for unemployment payments and up to $4 billion for other domestic "emergency" things.

talker | April 28, 2008 - 9:41pm

war budget

i was wondering if the many earmarks added to some of these budgets were including in the price of the war or if they were subtracted. I have seen many reports giving a total for the war budget, but I never found out how much money went out in earmarks and if that pork barell spending was claimed as money spent on Iraq.

cyndayton (not verified) | April 24, 2008 - 8:38am
talker's picture

think they do

cyndayton - If by earmarks for domestic programs that are unrelated to the war, I'm pretty sure all the responsible cost counters aren't adding those numbers in. If you mean earmarks for defense contractors (and I have no idea how many - if any - of those there are), I doubt they're siphoned out.

For citizenJoe's part, we look at the news reports on the spending bill which almost always spell out how much of the bill is added-on domestic spending - and we don't include those numbers. What they almost never say is how much money is going to Iraq vs. Afghanistan - so you can see above, we just take a wild guess.

If you want the most hard-core numbers, the guys to go to are CRS and CBO - the two research wings of Congress. Even thought they work for Congress, they have pretty pristine records of producing solid, nonpartisan reports. Two of their latest estimates on Iraq (CRS) and the two wars (CBO) are here: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf and http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8971/02-11-WarCosts_Letter.3.1.shtml.

talker | April 25, 2008 - 9:11am