Pentagon Asks Congress For Authority To Transfer War Funds

The Department of Defense asked Congress on Wednesday for the authority to transfer $9.7 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as Congress continues to debate a massive war supplemental spending bill.

The Pentagon said the emergency request to borrow or transfer funds from other areas was necessary because Congress has not yet finished its work on the massive bill, which would provide over $160 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through next year.

“Congressional approval of this $9.7 billion reprogramming [request] will only allow another few weeks of operations until the department as a whole runs out of critical funding,” read a statement posted Thursday on the Department of Defense website.

“Should Congress fail to pass the [war supplemental] by mid-July, the department will have exhausted all military personnel and operations funding and will, at minimum, be unable to make payroll for both military and civilian personnel throughout the department.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the Senate Appropriations Committee last week that if Congress fails to act quickly, the Army will no longer be able to pay soldiers after June 15, a claim many congressional Democrats disagree with.

Although Congress left for a week-long Memorial Day recess without completing its work on the bill, Democratic leaders insist there is adequate funding for the war through the beginning of July and that they expect to pass the measure in the coming weeks.

The Pentagon asked Congress to take up the reprogramming request no later than June 9.