So with a Memorial Day deadline looming, as if on cue the Pentagon came through this week in a letter to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, warning that the Army was running out of money for Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon letter essentially says the military would have to rob Peter to pay Paul and furlough civilian employees not involved in the war effort.
The tactic of threatening layoffs if the Pentagon does not get its war money is not new. It was used last year when Congress was debating the last major Iraq funding bill. There were no layoffs, and the Democratic Congress eventually caved in on troop withdrawal timetables and gave the Pentagon the war money with no strings attached. That is likely to happen again in the coming month, and layoffs will be averted.
Here's a copy of the letter from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England _ note the creative phrase "in extremis" as it applies to Pentagon war funding.
The House and Senate, despite the recent meltdowns in both chambers over process and procedure, are on track to approve a supplemental spending bill in the coming weeks. Whether it gets done before Memorial Day is uncertain, but as the holiday approaches, expect to hear more Capitol Hill Republicans railing about Democrats causing layoffs at the Pentagon.