Obama officials are fighting criticism of their multibillion-dollar plan for shoring up antiterrorism capabilities among U.S. partners, Defense News reports.
The Obama administration's request for Congress to create a $5 billion "counterterrorism partnerships fund" prompted expressions of derision from a number of GOP lawmakers and insiders involved in federal budget planning, the publication said on Monday. One source said the White House is still consulting with the State and Defense departments on how to choose state recipients of the potential aid for combating terrorism threats.
"The White House is coordinating a very informal, very ad-hoc process to figure out what in the hell this is," the insider said, adding that the Pentagon and State Department may not have provided input on the proposal prior to its unveiling last month.
White House spokesman Edward Price disputed that assertion.
"The idea for this fund evolved out of months of coordination from across senior levels of departments and agencies," said Price, head of strategic communications for the National Security Council.
The spokesman dismissed as "absolutely false" a suggestion that the initiative could set off a scramble for antiterrorism-assistance dollars by competing federal agencies.
"This program is envisioned to build upon the excellent cooperation between State and Defense," Price argued.
He added that the plan "would incorporate existing tools and authorities." Some critics have said it was uncertain whether appropriators could fund the proposed plan through existing statutory mechanisms, rather than abiding by the administration's call to provide the aid as part of its request for "overseas contingency operations" in fiscal 2015.
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