Jul 12, 2016
Defense Drumbeat

Washington Post - Karoun Demirjian - June 12

Republican leaders in Congress are demanding President Obama seek additional funding to pay for new troops heading to Iraq and those staying in Afghanistan, potentially setting up a bitter political fight just as lawmakers are negotiating a final defense policy bill.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees on Monday both offered qualified support for the Obama administration’s plan to send 560 more troops to Iraq as part of preparations to seize the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. They warned, however, that the president could not expect to conduct such operations without asking Congress to cut a new check.

“These operations will not pay for themselves,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement, arguing that the government “cannot continue to ask our troops to do more around the world by raiding funds needed to modernize their equipment and support their training.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), McCain’s House counterpart, stressed that Obama must send Congress a formal budget request because his recent announcements concerning troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan mean “the United States will now be deploying thousands more troops than we have budgeted for.”

But budgeting more for defense alone, even to support an expanding campaign against the Islamic State and other extremist groups, is a recipe for discord in Congress. Democrats insist military spending cannot increase without boosting funding for domestic programs by an equal amount.

Republicans defense hawks contend the current budget does not provide enough spending to keep the military strong.

“It better not be a rule that we are only going to support the people who serve our country, risk their lives, we’re only going to support them if we put an equal amount of money into these domestic things,” Thornberry said during a talk at the Heritage Foundation last week. “To connect the two and basically hold the military hostage in those political battles is wrong at every level.”...


114th Congress