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Murtha Blocks Iraq Funding

1:03 PM, Jun 10, 2008 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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We've chronicled here how the Congress has refused to fund the war on terror. Congress is approaching a critical deadline, as Secretary Gates recently testified before the Senate that the Pentagon will not have the funds necessary to pay troops as of June 15, unless the Congress approves a reprogramming of other funds. Now Congressman John Murtha has decided to stand in the way:

All four panels must approve the request before the Pentagon can carry out the transfer. But with the panels in disagreement over the amount, the Defense Department will be allowed to shift only the lowest level of funding approved by the committees, according to congressional and defense sources.

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa., said his panel approved only a portion of the reprogramming request because he believes the Pentagon can get by without the full amount.

"We approved part of the [reprogramming]," but not all, Murtha said. "They don't need that much money that fast..."

Service members, including those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and essential civilians would serve without pay, while nonessential civilian employees would be furloughed, the department said.

The Pentagon has already borrowed against its fourth quarter budget to cover current military expenses. Additionally, the soaring cost of oil has put a significant dent in DoD accounts. Further, Congress shows no sign of having figured out how to buy off competing Democratic constituencies to pass a funding bill, and Democratic leaders refuse to bring for a vote clean legislation that would pass with largely Republican support. Nevertheless, Murtha believes it's appropriate to nickel and dime the Pentagon, while holding up long-term funding.

But don't worry: Congress supports the troops.