Pentagon Blackmails Congress For No Strings War Funding
Democrats Are Firm on Link to Troop Withdrawals From Iraq
By Jonathan Weisman and Ann Scott Tyson Washington Post
The Defense Department warned yesterday that as many as 200,000 contractors and civilian employees will begin receiving layoff warnings by Christmas unless Congress acts on President Bush’s $196 billion war request, but senior Democrats said no war funds will be approved until Bush accepts a shift in his Iraq policy.
Skirmishing over war funding has continued for nearly a year, but the White House and Congress appear ready to push toward a showdown in the coming weeks. Democratic leaders are convinced that Congress’s abysmal approval ratings stem in large part from its inability to force Bush to change his approach in Iraq. But with violence declining in Iraq, Republicans believe they are in an even stronger position to stay the course.
“We are calling on Congress and the Democrats in Congress to send the president supplemental war funding without arbitrary surrender dates and without micromanaging the war before they leave for their next vacation,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls defense funding, said the country owes troops “more than just a debt of gratitude. We owe them and their families a new way, a way that leads home.”
Now that Congress has approved a huge base budget for the Pentagon of $459 billion, from which funds can be shifted for various needs, Democrats can rightfully assert that there is no immediate funding crisis, said Cindy Williams, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office’s national security division. The Pentagon can borrow billions of dollars slated to be spent at the end of the current fiscal year to pay for operations now, she said.
But with the cost of the Iraq war soaring, fund transfers this winter could be huge, and disruptions would be inevitable. With Democrats saying that future funds will have policy strings attached, “both sides are playing a big game of chicken here,” she said.
“The money has already been provided by the House of Representatives. If the president wants that $50 billion released, all he has to do is call the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, and ask him to stop blocking it,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) also blamed Republicans for any lack of money for the war.
The Pentagon, therefore, has started planning for the possibility that the Army and the Marine Corps will exhaust their operations and maintenance budgets. In the past two weeks, those budgets have been used to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which cost about $10.5 billion a month.
Under current budget rules, the Defense Department can shuffle only $3.7 billion a year without seeking congressional approval. Morrell said that shows the department has already exhausted its options, but Democratic congressional aides said that a request from the Pentagon for additional transfer authority would almost certainly be approved. The goal, said one leadership aide, is to keep the administration on a short leash.
So, how does the Pentagon plan on pressuring Congress to give them ‘unlimited funding’ without any strings? Ask King George. The threat of shutting the government down ‘with the exception of critical’ agencies is how they extort what they want.
The specter of labeling the Democrats ‘bad guys’ has worked every time. Pelosi crumbles, Reid crumbles, then we concede to the dictator again. How can an administration get away with this? Keep funding a war ‘over there’ then trash the wounded ‘over here’. Force the wounded to pay back their sign up bonus and pay some of their own medical bills. Demean the mentally damaged casualties and withdraw continued support.
The pressure on commanders to target PTSD in the field, then send them home with “personality problems” due to “pre-existing mental flaws” is outrageous. This administration is waging war on our own soldiers. This administration gives lip service to the uproar about PTSD and it’s spreading impact on America’s population, but, the deception still shouts betrayal.
America is betraying everything it touches. We have been taken advantage of. The civilized among us have been too polite to roll up our sleeves and take a real punch at this bully. Have we been brainwashed into lying down in front of a freight train and “hoping” it stops in time? Hope has failed, we are wasting time. Action is all that’s left!