Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wire: Pentagon Says Lawmakers' Jets, Unrequested Appropriations, Take From Troops at War

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the House's bid to buy new executive jets on the Pentagon's budget has broadened a conflict between Congress and the administration over defense priorities.

"It forces us to take money from things we do need to fund and redirect it for things we don't need," Geoff Morrell, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said Friday. "And in a time of war, we just can't afford that."

Lawmakers' move to upgrade the fleet of government jets -- used for travel by lawmakers and other senior government officials -- is just one of more than 1,000 spending projects lawmakers added to the Pentagon's budget for next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The $550 million request for additional executive jets, which pales next to the price of weapons systems targeted for cuts, comes at a time when the White House is trying to limit Pentagon budgeting and contracting.

"The bottom line is, for everything that they appropriate for us above and beyond what we've asked for, it will, at some point require us to find money from programs we do need," Morrell said.

The House trimmed President Obama's budget request for the Pentagon to $636.3 billion, down slightly from the $640.1 billion he sought. But in so doing, House appropriators also rearranged spending priorities, cutting programs Mr. Obama favored and replacing them with items he wanted cut, the Journal said.

In all, the House included more than 1,000 additional spending provisions totaling more than $2.8 billion, according to an analysis of the legislation by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Pentagon Takes Aim at Jets for Congressional Travel

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