Officials Urge Quick Action on Supplemental Funding Request
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 5, 2008 Office of Management and Budget officials today urged Congress to act quickly on the White House’s request for $102 billion in supplemental funding to cover military operations in the war on terror through fiscal 2008, which ends Sept. 30.
If Congress doesn’t act by the Memorial Day recess on the fiscal 2008 supplemental budget request, the Defense Department may have to begin furloughing civilian employees by the end of June, OMB officials said.
The White House sent a $70 billion fiscal 2009 supplemental budget request to Congress on May 2 to carry the war effort past the end of the current fiscal year.
“We are urging Congress to move quickly on [the fiscal 2008 supplemental funding request] so that we don’t have to take the disruptive steps that are necessary to reprogram funds and do things that make it hard for us to meet our obligations,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said today.
Congress is scheduled to begin its Memorial Day recess May 26.
Civilian employee furloughs are a last resort, Whitman said, but might become necessary if Congress does not act. The department would make other financial shifts before considering furloughs, he said.
“First, you would do things like shifting personnel accounts so that the services would all reach depletion at the same time,” Whitman said. The services would also examine operations and maintenance funds to see what they could slow or halt, he added.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the military needs the supplemental appropriations bill passed before Congress leaves town for the Memorial Day recess.
“We stop paying soldiers on the 15th of June, and we have precious little flexibility with respect to that,” Mullen said during an interview with Roll Call newspaper last week. “Clearly, that creates incredible constraints and difficulties for us.”
DoD would get the lion’s share of the $70 billion supplemental request President Bush submitted to Congress May 2, at $66 billion. Some $4 billion would go to the State Department and other international operations.
The 2009 supplemental request provides $45.1 billion to fund combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $3.7 billion to expand the Afghan security forces, $2 billion for counterinsurgency training for the Iraqi security forces and $1.7 billion for the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The budget also covers increased fuel costs and funds to combat improvised explosive devices – the leading killer of Americans in Iraq.
The fiscal 2009 supplemental request also asks for $400 million for traumatic brain injury research and other psychological health issues for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.