OMB director lambastes war spending bill

Former Rep. Jim Nussle says without funding by mid-June government will run out of money to pay troops.

Office of Management and Budget Director James Nussle Wednesday denounced the supplemental spending bills emerging from the House and Senate, saying that President Bush will reject them and that the Defense Department will soon have to take drastic measures to address the absence of needed funding.

But Nussle, who spoke at the White House, did not rule out Bush allowing at least some domestic spending in the measure, saying that the president's top priorities are ensuring that the legislation does not exceed his $108 billion cap and that it does not include provisions that tie the hands of military leaders.

Such provisions, he suggested, would surely result in a veto.

Nussle made clear Bush's unhappiness with the domestic spending on the bill, accusing Democrats of holding the troops hostage over the party's domestic agenda.

He noted that expanded unemployment benefits are provided under the legislation even though the unemployment rate is below 5 percent. He charged that if Congress was really interested in more domestic spending it would try to speed the appropriations process instead of stalling it, alleging that lawmakers have decided to "punt" on the regular order spending bills until next year in the hope of getting a better deal with a Democratic president.

Nussle said that if the funding is not provided by June 15, the Defense Department will run out of money to pay troops, including those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The delay will also result in the Defense Department having to play a "shell game" by redirecting money from other programs to meet critical needs. Furlough notices will have to begin going out for civilian employees in June.

Nussle also accused Democrats of ignoring bipartisan veterans' benefits legislation and of "air-dropping" into the supplemental a bill that had not been considered.

NEXT STORY: The Transition and the Nukes