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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
REPEATS CONTROVERSIAL CLAIM
Trump: Clinton “Doesn’t Have The Stamina” to be President
1 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.

WIDELY DEBUNKED CLAIM
Trump: Clinton Camp Started Birtherism
1 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.

“AFRICAN AMERICANS” ARE “LIVING IN HELL”
Conversation Shifts to Race
1 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."

JUST AS CLINTON INVITES VIEWERS TO VISIT HER SITE
During Debate, Trump Site Appears to Be Down
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.

INTERRUPTS CLINTON MULTIPLE TIMES
Trump Comes Out Swinging
2 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.

×