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April 29, 2015

Opposing the Pentagon Slush Fund

DownsizeDC.org, along with 23 other organizations, sent this letter to the House, and an identical letter to the Senate, to oppose the 2016 Budget Resolution that includes a “slush fund”  disguised as war funding. 
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Dear Representative:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our combined memberships, we urge you to oppose the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution conference report scheduled for votes this week. The conference report contains serious fiscal concerns, particularly related to billions of dollars being allocated toward the Pentagon's war budget for ill-defined purposes.

The conferees agreed to add $39 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, an emergency account that has been used to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This brings the new total to $90 billion in addition to the $523 billion 050 defense budget. An additional $6 billion has been added in the Overseas Contingency Operations accounts for the State Department. 

As more and more base budget items are being funded through this “off budget” account, OCO has already gained a well-deserved reputation as a slush fund. We strongly object to the continued use of this “slush fund” that circumvents the spending caps that Congress itself legislated and avoids tough choices on Pentagon spending. From 2001-2014, the Pentagon spent $71 billion from  the OCO account on non-war programs, including funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system, repairing surplus gear from Iraq, and the majority of funding for US Central Command (CENTCOM).1 This year, $39.7 billion has been transferred from the operations-and-maintenance funds into OCO to fund base requirements.2 

Leaders at the Pentagon believe budgeting in this manner only exacerbates the problem. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict Michael Lumpkin noted in a March 18th hearing before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, “It's not something I can sit here and plan on, so it actually increases my fiscal uncertainty.”3

Instead of giving the Defense Department many more billions of dollars without sufficient accountability or adequate oversight, Congress should insist that the Pentagon institute the controls necessary to stop wasting taxpayer dollars.
We urge a “no” vote on the Budget Resolution conference report.

Sincerely,

You can see the list of signers here (.pdf) 

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