Congressional Republicans Approve Huge Increase in Fund for Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite Pentagon Asking for Less

Thursday, March 26, 2015
Rep. Tom Price

Republicans on Capitol Hill added $45 billion to a request by the Department of Defense to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the GOP’s budget plan.

 

Pentagon officials had asked for $50.9 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, a trick that has been routinely used by Congress to support the wars for years. They got that, and more. Wednesday night, the Republican-controlled House passed a budget plan that added $45 billion to the request for OCO.

 

Republicans put two budget proposals on the floor, nicknamed Price 1 and Price 2, after their author, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Georgia). Price 2 provided the extra Pentagon funding, while Price 1 did not. Price 2 passed the House 219-208 with no Democratic support.

 

Democrats, and even some Republicans, call the OCO a “slush fund” that allows the military too much freedom to spend taxpayer dollars instead of going through the usual defense appropriations process. Democrats have labeled the padding of the OCO with $45 billion an “abusive loophole.”

 

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen the chairman of the House Budget Committee bring two Republican budgets to the floor. Price 1 and Price 2—I don’t know which Price is right, but from our perspective they are both wrong,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) told reporters Wednesday.

 

“They both essentially play games with how we fund defense. If you fund defense you should do it in a straight-up manner,” Van Hollen said.

 

The Pentagon’s $51 billion request was largely for funding the Afghanistan war, which is slated to get $42 billion. Another $5 billion is intended to support operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

- Steve Straehley, Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

War Budget Might Be Permanent ‘Slush Fund’ (by Jeremy Herb and Bryan Bender, Politico)

Lawmakers Boost War Spending as the Wars Wind Down (by Julia Harte and Alexander Cohen, Center for Public Integrity)

A Long-Term Blank Check for ‘War’ Spending (by Julia Harte, Center for Public Integrity)

Divided House GOP Prevents Embarrassment, Passes Budget Boosting Defense Spending (by Laura Barron-Lopez, Huffington Post)

U.S. has Spent $1.5 Trillion on Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Has Spent $642 Billion on Afghan War, Including almost $200 Billion for This Year and Next (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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