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Report: ISIS strikes squeeze Pentagon budget

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of Sept. 23, 2014.

REUTERS

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) could cost tens of billions of dollars, straining the Defense Department's budget as it still adjusts to mandatory budget cuts put in place in late 2011.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the strikes cost up to $10 million a day and could cost between $2.4 billion and $8.6 billion a year, based on estimates from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Though that's far less than the wartime spending for conflicts that involve U.S. troops on the ground -- $85 billion has been allocated for spending in Afghanistan this year, for instance -- but military officials had already cut back on the budget to come in line with the spending cuts Congress ordered after a battle over the budget several years ago.

Lawmakers are relying on a pool of extra wartime funding the U.S. has used for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Journal reports, but leaders in the Pentagon and Congress say it's time to get rid of the budget caps.

"You can't cut the military while we keep asking them to do more," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, told the Journal.

Still, efforts to eliminate the spending limits have always been met by bitter partisan division on Capitol Hill because of differences in how to make up for the higher spending. Republicans want to look for deeper, permanent cuts in domestic programs, while Democrats think that higher taxes or other sources of revenue should mae up for it.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.