‘There is no slush fund,’ Acting SecDef Shanahan says of $165 billion wartime budget (that mostly doesn’t fund combat operations)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused the Pentagon of creating a “slush fund” by loading its wartime budget with nearly $100 billion that does not fund operations in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
The Pentagon’s proposed $718 billion fiscal 2020 budget includes $165 billion for “overseas contingency operations,” which is supposed to fund combat operations and is not subject to limits on defense spending that Congress imposed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Of the $165 billion wartime budget, only $66.7 would fund “direct war requirements” while the remaining $97.9 billion would go towards readiness costs, such as buying new munitions, Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker said on Wednesday. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget decided to put those expenses in the “OCO” budget.
On Thursday, Warren tore into top Pentagon officials for requesting a 139 percent increase in wartime funding — nearly equal to the OCO budget when the U.S. had roughly 150,000 troops deployed. By comparison, about 21,000 U.S. troops are currently deployed to Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, she said.
“I just want to be absolutely clear so that the taxpayer understands: You’re requesting funding in OCO to fund activities that have nothing to do with the reason that OCO was established – is that correct?” Warren asked at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and David L. Norquist, who is performing the duties of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, attempted to dodge Warren’s question by explaining the process of how the Pentagon developed the fiscal 2020 budget.
“We’re asking for $750 billion topline [including funding for other departments] and we want to work with this committee to get the appropriation and authorization …” Shanahan said before Warren cut him off.
“What we’re really talking about here is the establishment of a slush fund to hide what’s happening with …read more
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