Head Smacker: Congress Continues to Fund Military Equipment the Pentagon Doesn’t Want
Despite Congress’ continued insistence that critical assistance like benefits for the long-term unemployed be paid for by cutting something else, they continue to push money towards the Pentagon – whether or not the Pentagon wants the money in the first place.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation pulled together some great (in an appalling kind of way) examples of this, making Congress’ love of Pentagon spending our Head Smacker of the week. Just a few of the examples are included in the infographic below.
Of course, there are also times when the Pentagon has asked for money and then wasted what they got in extraordinary fashion. A piece in the Washington Post last month highlighted a few of the more egregious recent examples of this – like the $3 million the Pentagon spent on boats for landlocked Afghanistan that are still sitting in a storage facility in Virginia nearly four years after their purchase, and the $34 million military headquarters built in Afghanistan that was never used because the Marines had stated they didn’t need the building in the first place and they were in the process of leaving the area by the time it was completed.
And then there’s the Overseas Contingency Operations account. Originally established for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the OCO has become the Defense Department’s slush fund, used to effectively avoid the impact of sequestration cuts and fund non-war related items. In fact, the Administration last month requested almost $60 billion for this account for FY15, despite the fact that the war in Iraq is over and activities in Afghanistan are drawing to a close. The bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday fully funded this request.
The Pentagon budget has nearly doubled over the last 12 years, without even including funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military experts and bipartisan leaders have identified real and responsible ways to cut the Pentagon budget, while still keeping our troops safe, protecting our security, and maintaining our commitments to veterans.
Meanwhile, sequestration has slashed spending on the non-defense side, cutting programs and hitting those who need help the hardest. By cutting the slush and waste in Pentagon spending, we could be funding programs Americans actually need to keep their heads above water. The $395 million for the unwanted bombers, for example, could have restored all the cuts made to housing vouchers for low-income people since 2010. We need to tell Congress to seek responsible savings from wasteful spending in the Pentagon, and instead make critical investments in the programs that serve our neighbors in need.