Cohen Calls for Supplemental Passage by April 17
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 29, 2000 "You have to pay the people, and you have to pay the light bill," said Warren Hall, assistant deputy comptroller for programs and budget. "One payment you can defer -- but it's not a great idea -- is you don't have to perform training."
That will be the training situation if Congress doesn't pass the $2 billion fiscal 2000 Emergency Supplemental Appropriation Bill before it goes on Easter recess April 17. The bill funds Kosovo operations for fiscal 2000, and the Army is the service needing the supplemental most.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said if bill passage is not assured, the Army would have to start canceling movements to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and other readiness-related training exercises.
Cohen said other actions the Army would have to take include reducing home station training and delaying procurement, promotions and bringing people into the service.
He said the Navy and Air Force face lesser, but still serious risks, he said. "Additionally, essential intelligence activities and defense agencies support would be degraded," Cohen wrote.
The supplemental also covers the increase in the cost of fuel. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said about $1.56 billion will go to cover higher fuel costs in fiscal 1999, 2000 and 2001.
"The reason for this is the way the Defense Logistics Agency 'sells' oil to military users is at a fixed price for a year," Bacon told reporters March 28. This allows the services to plan their costs for the year.
"So, if the price they sell it at turns out to be higher than what they were paying for oil, they end up with a surplus, which is used to reduce the selling price the next year," Bacon said. "If the price at which they sell turns out to be too low, ... they run a deficit, and then they have to make that up from Congress."
In fiscal 2000, DLA is selling oil to the services at $26.04 per barrel. The actual costs are about $31 per barrel. DoD budgeted just over $4 billion for oil in fiscal 2000 and $3.35 billion in fiscal 2001.
The supplemental would also cover some shortages in defense healthcare programs, especially in prescription drugs, DoD officials said. It also puts some money into base housing.
"Prudent managers will plan on the worst case," Hall said.