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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Seeks $48Bln Defense Increase

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush said Wednesday he will propose a $48 billion increase in military spending, using the biggest boost in two decades to buy high-tech gear for a continued war against terrorism.

"The tools of modern warfare are effective. They are expensive. But in order to win this war against terror they are essential," Bush said in a speech to military reserve officers, in which he outlined his fiscal 2003 defense-budget request.

The money would pay for a military pay raise, precision weapons, missile defenses, unmanned vehicles and high-tech equipment for ground troops, Bush said.

"Buying these tools may put a strain on our budget, but we will not cut corners when it comes to defense of our great land," he said.

A White House official said the increase included $38 billion for defense increases like the pay raise and weaponry and $10 billion in "war reserves." The total proposed defense budget will be $379 billion.

Bush has made homeland security and the war on terrorism his top priorities since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, using the terror threat and economic recession to justify a return to federal deficits for the first time since the budget then-U.S. President Bill Clinton proposed in February 1997.

The president's speech provided a preview of his State of the Union address next week and his budget blueprint for fiscal 2003, due to be released Feb. 4.

On Thursday, the White House is expected to roll out plans for homeland security, including a big push to beef up local police, fire and rescue departments. To fund that effort, the White House has told lawmakers it would seek at least a $15 billion increase in the 2003 budget.

"This is a major investment. We want to empower cities and states to build upon their first-response capability, then we want to help you sustain it in the future," Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Bush is expected to win bipartisan support in Congress for a sizable spending increase for both the Defense Department and homeland security as Democrats and Republicans rally behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

But the additional spending will crowd out other budget priorities and fuel election-year finger-pointing over deficit spending. According to administration sources, the White House's soon-to-be-released budget will project a 2002 deficit of about $100 billion, followed by a shortfall of about $80 billion in fiscal 2003.

Earlier Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office said the U.S. government would return to deficits for two years and slashed nearly $2 trillion from its forecast for the 10-year budget surplus.

"There will be differences, clearly," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, told reporters after meeting with Bush.

But Daschle added: "A new year brings a new opportunity to start over. We're going to do that and work in, hopefully, a very positive and a bipartisan spirit."