The White House wants Congress to nearly double 2007 Dept. of Defense aid for small Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction projects, but it is unclear how appropriations panels, now under Democrats’ control, will respond.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Feb. 27 told the Senate Appropriations Committee that DOD’s $99.6-billion supplemental request has  $486 million for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, which funds small schools, power-line and other rebuilding work, plus humanitarian aid. It would augment $500 million approved earlier for CERP. But panel Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said, “All the President has requested is more money for military force and more money for ineffective reconstruction efforts.”