Bush to order about 20,000 more troops to Iraq

President George W. Bush will tell skeptical Americans on Wednesday he will send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a long-delayed new plan for the unpopular war, setting up a confrontation with Democrats.

The fresh infusion of troops will join about 130,000 already in Iraq. Senior administration officials said 17,500 would go to Baghdad and 4,000 to volatile Anbar province.

The first wave of troops are expected to arrive in five days, with others coming in additional waves. Under the plan, the Iraqi government will deploy additional Iraqi troops to Baghdad with a first brigade deploying February 1 and two more by February 15.

Senior administration officials said the cost of the troop increase would be around $5.6 billion. An additional $1.2 billion would finance a rebuilding and jobs programs.

Democratic leaders of the U.S. Congress say they plan to hold symbolic votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate on Bush’s plan, which will force the president’s Republicans to take a stand on the proposal in an attempt to isolate the president politically over his handling of the war.

They also could try to cut funding for the revised war strategy, but so far Democratic leaders have shied away from threats to do that, although some would like to do so.