Gates urges Congress to fund omnibus appropriations bill

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates late Wednesday released a statement urging Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill to fund the department for the rest of fiscal 2011, rather than fund the department through the continuing resolution passed by the House last week. The omnibus bill would allow Defense to pursue critical national security initiatives, such as standing up the new Cyber Command and increasing special operations forces.

The omnibus spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday also provides Defense with a larger 2011 budget, $667.7 billion, or $154.7 billion more than the House approved last week.

Gates said that requiring Defense to operate under a year-long continuing resolution would leave it without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements.

He said the House Defense budget is $19 billion below 2010 funding but does not "reduce or eliminate any of the additional bills we must pay in the coming year. We will need to cover the military pay raise, increases in military health care costs, higher fuel prices, and other 'fact of life' bills. None of these additional costs are covered by a continuing resolution."

He added, "the heavy volume of reprogramming needed to manage the vast and complex operations of this department under a year-long continuing resolution would slow our efforts to meet unanticipated wartime needs."

Gates urged Congress "to take these concerns into account and enact a full defense appropriations bill as part of an omnibus appropriations bill."

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