Coalition urges senators to support effective oversight of war funding

October 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC—Yesterday, a coalition of public interest advocates sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate urging opposition to Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) expected amendment to strike Section 4104 of the Senate budget resolution. Section 4104 would let senators challenge line items in the war budget, that is, funds designated for overseas contingency operations (OCO). An OCO designation exempts appropriations from being counted against spending caps under the Budget Control Act.

Congress has classified increasing amounts of base—that is, regular, non-emergency—military spending as OCO funds. This lets them skirt the caps instead of making strategic choices about America's role in the world or at least making budget deals.

The underlying provision would empower senators to challenge questionable items in spending bills. Improving accountability and promoting strategic choices when using taxpayer funds is needed more than ever, and we applaud Chairman Enzi for improving stewardship of the people's resources.

The letter states:

The OCO budget should not be used by Congress as “free” money. This has led to the original purpose of the fund, to cover the unexpected and unbudgeted costs of overseas contingencies, being overridden by a desire to add more money to the Pentagon while avoiding the BCA caps.

Section 4104 establishes a Point of Order against designating funds as OCO spending. It would treat OCO the same way as emergency funding designations. The Point of Order may be suspended by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the members of the Senate.

Amendment #498 on Base Review would start the long-overdue process of realigning bases to fit our strategy and to redirect funds from unneeded base capacity to higher priorities, like readiness and modernization.

Click HERE to read the coalition letter in its entirety and see the full list of signers.