Undermining the Budget: The Supplemental Problem
Posted by Gordon Adams
As military and diplomatic crises multiply overseas, the Congress has continued its merry way providing funding for the Administration’s national security policy. Given the policy chaos, it is not surprising that there would be budgetary chaos, as well, in the way Congress is supporting national security.
This week, the Senate will consider its version of the defense appropriations bill, which includes more than $453 b. for the Defense Department (defense funds are actually higher – nearly $550 b. - since this bill does not include military pay, quality of life and construction funds). Of that amount, $50 b. is included for what is called a “bridge fund.” for Afghanistan, and global military operations against terrorists.
This $50 b. has the status of “emergency funding,” meaning it does not count against the Congress’ self-imposed ceiling for discretionary spending. This $50 b. is the tip of the iceberg for funding, Afghanistan and the so-called Global War on Terror. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), through the current fiscal year ending in September, the nation will have spent another $437 b. on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the struggle with terrorism, nearly three quarters of it for operations in Iraq alone, and over 90% of it for the military.
All of this spending has been provided as “emergency” or “emergency supplemental” funding. And it is likely to continue. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the nation is likely to spend another $371 b. on these operations between now and 2016, even with the deployed forces shrinking.