Ask Us for More Money to Fill Defense Budget Holes, Senator Says

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said civilian furloughs at the Defense Department have a “direct link” to higher-than-anticipated costs caused by the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said civilian furloughs at the Defense Department have a “direct link” to higher-than-anticipated costs caused by the ongoing war in Afghanistan. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

A lawmaker on Tuesday encouraged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to file a supplemental budget request to fill fiscal 2013 budget holes caused by higher wartime costs and sequestration.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said civilian furloughs at the Defense Department have a “direct link” to higher-than-anticipated costs caused by the ongoing war in Afghanistan. During a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, she said a third of the shortfalls in Defense’s readiness account, and half in the Army’s readiness account, was not caused by sequestration, but by higher operating tempos.

Collins said budget transfer requests only moved money around between accounts, when the real issue was a serious shortfall in the amount of money Defense has.

“Even if we abolish sequestration today, that does not solve of the problem of your needing—legitimately needing—more money to deal with unanticipated, underestimated war costs,” Collins said. “I would ask you to look at the possibility of submitting a supplemental request.”

Hagel said that he had not discussed or considered a supplemental request and noted that Defense “had not looked at that as a possibility.”

Even if the Pentagon were to file a request, it's far from certain that Congress would approve it. A congressional committee recently rejected part of Defense’s $9.6 billion budget reprogramming request, Defense News reported.

Government Executive asked Collins’ office if she would push for the passage of such a measure in Congress but did not receive a response by publication time. 

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