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Panetta Lied, Afghan Funds In Sequestration

From The Hill:

Obama administration decision to include war funding in automatic cuts riles GOP

By Jeremy Herb – 06/03/12

Republicans in Congress are up in arms over the Obama administration’s decision to include funding for the war in Afghanistan in the automatic cuts to defense that are set to begin in 2013.

Administration officials say the war funding has to account for part of the cuts under the law, but the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee says the money dedicated to Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) was never intended to fall under the budget axe.

"I am disappointed the president has made this choice, since there is no clear mandate for it in the law,” House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement.

“Of course now, more than ever it is the troops on the front lines in Afghanistan who will bear the brunt of sequestration,” McKeon said. “If our forces on the front line are truly going to have to do with less body armor, fewer medevacs, and less ammunition he owes it to them to offer a credible way out of the pending disaster.”

Lest we forget, in 2007 and 2008 Mr. Obama constantly complained that the war in Afghanistan was being underfunded because of the war in Iraq. He and the rest of the Democrats constantly complained about the lack of body armor, and all the other things that will be affected by these cuts.

But that was then, and this is now.

Funding for the war has become the latest battleground in the increasingly acrimonious fight over the $500 billion across-the-board cut to defense that was set in motion by last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, known as the Budget Control Act (BCA).

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said Friday the decision was not up to them, because there was no exemption for preserving the war funding in the law.

“The question really is, was there anything in the statute that provides an exemption for the OCO funding, and we couldn’t find anything,” an OMB official said…

The news that the war funds would fall under sequestration was a surprise. Last November, Panetta sent a letter to Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) assuring him that the war funding would not be affected.

But OMB acting Director Jeffrey Zients wrote House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week informing him that OCO was, in fact, included under sequestration, contradicting the Pentagon’s previous position.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said this week that the department’s initial reading of the BCA was incorrect, and the Pentagon had changed its position “upon further review of the law and after consulting with OMB.”

Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said that Panetta’s letter left the impression on Capitol Hill and in the defense industry that OCO funds were not part of sequestration.

“The accepted understanding around Washington has been that OCO funding is exempt, and for a good reason,” Eaglen said

All of the statements from the Obama administration have to be ‘seasonally adjusted.’ Especially during the campaign season.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 4th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

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