Senate set to approve record Pentagon budget

Cox News Service

WASHINGTON | By Friday, the Senate is expected to authorize a record-breaking $648 billion in defense spending for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Even adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon budget for the coming year would be the largest tab for national defense since the end of World War II.

Driving the increase is the continuing war in Iraq, where more than 3,610 U.S. troops have been killed and 26,700 wounded, according to Pentagon figures.

Adding the cost of continuing the fight and long-term costs, such as taking care of wounded and disabled veterans and the toll exacted on the U.S. economy, the total cost of the war could reach well beyond $2 trillion, according to a study last year by two scholars at Harvard and Columbia universities.

A June analysis by the Congressional Research Service put the cost of the war through 2008 at $567 billion.