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 »
Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting. In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg."
"The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded Sunday that the department investigate the motives behind the inquiry. Earlier Sunday, in one of a series of tweets targeting the probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump wrote: 'I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!'"