Bush Sends DoD Supplemental Budget Request to Congress
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 4, 2001 President Bush has sent Congress a $5.9 billion supplemental request to make up for shortfalls in the fiscal 2001 budget. The request slates $5.6 billion for DoD.
Dov Zakheim, newly sworn-in DoD comptroller, said the supplement will cover such things as a July 1 targeted pay raise for mid-level noncommissioned and petty officers, unfunded military healthcare requirements, the rising cost of fuel, and reducing out-of-pocket housing costs.
DoD requested $1.9 billion for urgent pay and benefits, and $1.8 billion for readiness training and operations. The request contains $1.1 billion for contractual obligations and cost growth and $763 million for infrastructure and weapon systems repair and maintenance. It also requested $188 million for transformation capabilities. Zakheim called this last request "seed corn" for the major push in transforming the military that will begin in the fiscal 2002 and 2003 budgets.
The supplemental provides funds to repair the destroyer USS Cole and to recover the remains of nine Japanese citizens who died aboard the fishing trawler Ehime Maru, which sank in February after a collision with the submarine USS Greeneville off Hawaii.
The supplemental is not as large as the service chiefs wanted. Zakheim said the request only covers urgent priorities.
"(President Bush) has said that he is not very comfortable at all with the way budgets have been dealt with over the last few years," the comptroller told reporters May 31. He called the system "pathological" in that requesters deliberately underfund requests in anticipation of supplementals later in the year.
"There was gamesmanship regarding what was termed 'emergencies,'" he said. An emergency request allows Congress to exceed budgetary caps. "'Emergency' became used very, very broadly so that people could evade the very caps that they had set upon themselves," he said. This supplemental request, he said, stays under the spending caps.
Zakheim said more changes will be made in the fiscal 2002 defense budget that takes effect in October. He expects a 2002 budget amendment to go to Congress in July. "What I would say is, you have right now ... a seven-month period where you are essentially looking at three budgets," he said.
The 2001 budget supplemental is not meant to set policy or tone, he said. "The second one (the fiscal 2002 budget amendment) is one that starts to point in the directions in which (the administration) wishes to go," he said. "And it will do so in a very unequivocal way.
"Then, the third one (the fiscal 2003 budget), which is the first one we work on from start to finish, obviously will reflect in a full-blown form what this administration is trying to accomplish with respect to national security and defense."
The 2002 budget amendment will include money for missile defense and to begin transforming the American military, Zakheim said.
He said DoD is heading into the fiscal 2002 budget adamantly against unnecessary supplemental requests. But he didn't rule them out.
"There is an '02 budget amendment coming down the pike," he said. "It will presuppose no supplementals in '02 -- no supplementals. Now, could there be a supplemental? Of course ... God forbid there's a war."
Zakheim said he sees defense as a nonpartisan issue. "I think there is a tremendous sense on both sides of the aisle that national defense has to be updated, transformed, modernized," he said. And, the government must treat service members decently.
"There is something fundamentally wrong with telling your kids to go out there and risk their lives -- because they could die in a training accident or because they could be bumped off in some city somewhere in the world where they're on liberty -- and then you don't give them the proper housing," he said. "You keep them away for endless periods. You play games like this 179-day deployment so you don't have permanent change of station, and what that does to families?"
He said DoD is obligated to place resources to support men and women in uniform: "If we don't fix the infrastructure they work in, if we don't fix the houses they live in, if we don't provide for their kids' education, if we don't provide for their well-being, if we don't provide for their health, why in God's name should they volunteer to protect you and me?"