Congress to Pentagon: Hand Over the War Budget

Defense officials are wanting to wait until a decision on post-2014 involvement in Afghanistan is made.

Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission.) In this handout provided by the U.S. Air Force, a HH-60G Pave Hawk hovers over pararescuemen and Brig. Gen. Jack L. Briggs, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, during a training mission at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 24, 2010. The training mission provided a glimpse of what the 33rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron brings to the fight and the capabilities it provides to combat commanders.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
March 13, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to wait to re­lease its war budget, but it might not get its way if some mem­bers of Con­gress have any­thing to say about it.

Pentagon of­fi­cials have said that they are hold­ing off on re­leas­ing the over­seas con­tin­gency op­er­a­tions budget — which over­sees war funds — un­til after a bi­lat­er­al se­cur­ity agree­ment with Afgh­anistan is signed. If com­pleted, it would de­term­ine U.S. mil­it­ary in­volve­ment in the coun­try after 2014.

For now, the Pentagon has pegged the war budget — which isn’t sub­jec­ted to con­gres­sion­al budget caps — at about $79 bil­lion as part of its fisc­al 2015 budget re­quest. But act­ing Deputy De­fense Sec­ret­ary Christine Fox said that fig­ure was a “place­hold­er.”

However, top mem­bers of the House De­fense Ap­pro­pri­ations Sub­com­mit­tee stressed Thursday that a delay in turn­ing over a con­crete re­quest would likely com­plic­ate Con­gress’s budget pro­cess.

“I think it’s im­possible for us to go to the floor with a place­hold­er for $79 bil­lion,” Demo­crat Peter Vis­closky of In­di­ana said, while ac­know­ledging to top De­fense of­fi­cials testi­fy­ing be­fore the sub­com­mit­teee that he is aware that it’s prob­ably dif­fi­cult for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to come up with a set of num­bers for dif­fer­ent pos­sible out­comes.

Sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Rod­ney Frel­inghuysen agreed, say­ing that “it’s dif­fi­cult for us to put a bill to­geth­er with that ques­tion open.”

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel, re­spond­ing to the New Jer­sey Re­pub­lic­an’s com­ment that the place­hold­er is a “ser­i­ous hole” in the budget, said that while mil­it­ary lead­ers want to re­main in­volved in Afgh­anistan after 2014, Pentagon of­fi­cials are try­ing to not “fur­ther com­plic­ate an already com­plic­ated budget pro­cess.”

“When we get an en­dur­ing pres­ence de­cision, as soon as we can after that, we will get a form­al budget amend­ment to you for OCO,” said Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s comp­troller. “If that doesn’t work with the tim­ing is­sue, then we’re go­ing to have to look at oth­er op­tions, and we are think­ing of them now, as to how we pro­ceed if we don’t get an en­dur­ing pres­ence de­cision.”

Hale ac­know­ledged to Frel­inghuysen that he real­ized his an­swer is “vague,” adding, “At the mo­ment, I think it’s about the best I can do.”

What We're Following See More »
SINCE JANUARY
Baltimore Is Spying on Its Residents from the Air
0 minute ago
WHY WE CARE

"Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department" has been using a Cessna airplane armed with sophisticated camera equipment "to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings." The public hasn't been notified about the system, funded by a private citizen.

Source:
COST HAS RISEN 400%
EpiPen Prices Draw Scrutiny from Congress
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The cost of EpiPens have risen 400% since 2007, and members of Congress increasingly want to know why. Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Mylan, which makes the allergy injection devices, on Monday. “Many of the children who are prescribed EpiPens are covered by Medicaid, and therefore, the taxpayers are picking up the tab for this medication," he wrote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) "called earlier for a Judiciary Committee inquiry into the pricing and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission."

Source:
INTEL, AIR POWER
U.S. May Aid Turkey in Fight Against ISIS
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The U.S. is considering providing military support for hundreds of Turkish-backed rebels massing at the border with Syria for a major offensive meant to sever Islamic State’s supply routes there, officials from both countries said." As Turkey looks to reestablish its military's credibility after the recent coup attempt there, the U.S. is considering providing intelligence and air support.

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
15 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
×