Lawmakers, analysts question Pentagon troop increase methods

Top Pentagon officials say the Army will pay for a temporary increase in troop levels through emergency supplemental funds in fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2005, but lawmakers and budget analysts accuse the Bush administration of playing fast and loose with annual appropriations while banking on the fiscal cover afforded by invoking emergency powers and spending authorities.

Historically, troop level increases are planned and funded with congressional approval through regular appropriations. But last week, the Army's top uniformed official announced an increase of about 30,000 soldiers over the next four years using emergency authorities granted to the administration, in an effort to lessen the burden on soldiers on protracted deployment in Iraq.

Lawmakers including Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., support the idea but feel that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is using his authority to sidestep lawmakers' oversight of congressionally mandated troop levels. Tauscher, who introduced legislation last year that would increase military end-strength over a five-year period, said Rumsfeld is setting a dangerous precedent.

"We have to get him to agree to do it the right way," she told CongressDailyAM. "This is the second budget the president has submitted where he doesn't recognize we're having a major war in Iraq."

In response, Tauscher and others are scrubbing the president's budget request for the $2 billion or so needed to pay for the troop increase in fiscal 2005. "I'm looking at offsets as we speak," she said.

Chris Hellman, director of the Project on Military Spending at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said Rumsfeld's temporary troop level increase is a pre-emptive tactic to thwart lawmakers' efforts to make it permanent. And by using emergency appropriations to pay for the increase, the funds do not appear to increase overall spending, they do not apply to the annual deficit, and they are not locked into the annual appropriation process.

"This is the danger you get into once you decide annual supplementals are an appropriate way to budget every year," Hellman said. "It becomes the rule, and there is no oversight, and it gets kicked through very fast -- it's perfect."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.