Letter to Senate Urges “No” Vote on Budget Resolution Conference Report

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Letter to Senate Urges “No” Vote on Budget Resolution Conference Report

Letter to Senate Urges “No” Vote on Budget Resolution Conference Report

May 1, 2015

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our combined memberships, we urge you to oppose the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution conference report scheduled for votes this week. The conference report contains serious fiscal concerns, particularly related to billions of dollars being allocated toward the Pentagon’s war budget for ill-defined purposes.

The conferees agreed to add $38 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, an emergency account that has been used to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This brings the new total to $89 billion in addition to the $523 billion 050 defense budget. An additional $7 billion has been added in the Overseas Contingency Operations accounts for the State Department.

As more and more base budget items are being funded through this “off budget” account, OCO has already gained a well-deserved reputation as a slush fund. We strongly object to the continued use of this “slush fund” that circumvents the spending caps that Congress itself legislated and avoids necessary tough and strategic choices on Pentagon spending. From 2001-2014, the Pentagon spent $71 billion from  the OCO account on non-war programs, including funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, repairing surplus gear from Iraq, and the majority of funding for US Central Command (CENTCOM).[1] This year, $39.7 billion has been transferred from the operations-and-maintenance funds into OCO to fund base requirements.[2]

Leaders at the Pentagon believe budgeting in this manner only exacerbates the problem. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict Michael Lumpkin noted in a March 18th hearing before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, “It’s not something I can sit here and plan on, so it actually increases my fiscal uncertainty.”[3]

Instead of giving the Defense Department many more billions of dollars without sufficient accountability or adequate oversight, Congress should insist that the Pentagon institute the controls necessary to stop wasting taxpayer dollars.

We urge a “no” vote on the Budget Resolution conference report.

Sincerely,

American Friends Service Committee
Campaign for Liberty
Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation
Center for Foreign and Defense Policy
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Council for a Livable World
DownsizeDC.org
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Just Foreign Policy
London Center for Policy Research
National Priorities Project
National Security Network
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Niskanen Center
Peace Action
Progressive Democrats of America
Project on Government Oversight
Taxpayers for Common Sense
United for Peace and Justice
USAction
U.S. Labor Against the War
Women’s Action for New Directions
Win Without War

[1] Project on Government Oversight, “The Pentagon’s Wartime Slush Fund,” http://www.pogo.org/blog/2015/03/the-pentagons-wartime-slush-fund.html.
[2] http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS00/20150429/103288/BILLS-114HR1735ih-FC.pdf
[3]http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2015/May/Pages/DespiteWiderCuts,SpecialOperationsCommandBudgetOutlookRemainsRosy.aspx

To read this letter as a PDF, click here.

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returns to homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay after a three-month deployment. [U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber, 11/28/11]

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U.S. Capitol [Architect of the Capitol, 3/23/15]The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) prepares to conduct a personnel transfer as it returns to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash. [U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ed Early, 8/12/12]