Congress Looks Ahead to FY09 War Supplemental and FY10 Budget Battle

Government Relations Update - Defense

Capping off an eventful budget week at the Department of Defense (DoD), President Obama released last Thursday the details of an $83.4 billion supplemental appropriations request to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the rest of Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, once again setting the stage for a lively debate on Capitol Hill.

With the supplemental announcement coming only a few days after the release of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ controversial recommendations for the FY10 defense budget, lawmakers will have their hands full as they prepare to defend long-term budget priorities and simultaneously attempt to meet a tentative deadline of Memorial Day for completion of the FY09 war supplemental.

In total, President Obama’s request contains $75.5 billion for military and intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with $7.1 billion in foreign assistance activities. Below are the key funding figures:

  • $38 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (combat and stabilization operations, pre-deployment training, theater-wide transportation, etc.)
  • $11.6 billion to refurbish or replace equipment, including $500 million to procure four F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft.
  • $9.8 billion to purchase force protection equipment, including lightweight body armor, armored vehicles and surveillance.
  • $5.6 billion for military medical benefits and support programs, new military construction and intelligence activities.
  • $3.7 billion for foreign assistance and operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
  • $3.6 billion to expand and improve the Afghan security forces.
  • $1.5 billion for combating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
  • $500 million for Humanitarian relief and reconstruction through the Commander's Emergency Response Program.
  • $400 million to enhance counterinsurgency capabilities for the Pakistani security forces.

In an effort to quell dissent from Democrats, the White House Office of Management and Budget summary emphasized within a communications document that nearly 95 percent of the supplemental funding aims “to move forward with the President’s agenda of ending the war in Iraq responsibly” and “refocusing the fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Additionally, in a separate letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Obama referred to the request as “the last planned supplemental,” decrying the Bush Administration’s use of 17 separate emergency funding bills—totaling $822.1 billion—that excluded costs for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan from the regular budget process.

Following the announcement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) appeared to heed the President’s request for expedited approval of the bill. “Timely consideration of the supplemental is especially important to our men and women in uniform, who depend on it for the resources they need to do their jobs,” Hoyer said. “Congress looks forward to giving it that consideration in the weeks to come.”

Currently, the House and Senate appropriations committees have yet to schedule markups for the FY09 war supplemental.

Key DoD Nomination Stalls; Further Nominations Announced

Citing the Pentagon’s urgent requirement for comprehensive acquisition reform, Secretary Gates called on Congress Tuesday to quickly confirm Ashton Carter as the next undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology, and logistics when it returns to Washington next week.

Although the Senate Armed Services Committee approved Carter out of committee on April 1, the process has been stalled after Alabama Republican Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard C. Shelby placed a hold on the nomination as part of an effort to gain assurances from the Pentagon regarding the Air Force’s troubled competition to develop a new fleet of midair refueling tankers.

“It is of the utmost importance that the new tanker competition be conducted in an open and transparent manner based on a best value process,” said Shelby in a statement. “Before the new Request for Proposal is issued, we should have every assurance from Dr. Carter that the Department of Defense will proceed fairly to ensure our warfighters receive the most capable tanker possible.”

According to Gates, the DoD hopes to restart the KC-X tanker competition this summer and award a contract by early 2010.

Additionally, on April 14, the Administration made the following national security nominations:

  • Navy Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Vice Chief of Naval Operations—Adm. Greenert currently serves as commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, VA.
  • Andrew C. Weber, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs), DoD—Currently serving as an adviser for threat reduction policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Weber was previously a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, taking on diplomatic assignments in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Hong Kong.
  • Bonnie D. Jenkins, Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, Department of State—Currently serving as the Program Officer for U.S. Foreign and Security policy at the Ford Foundation, Dr. Jenkins also served as counsel to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, General Counsel to the U.S. Commission to assess the organization of the federal government to combat proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and as a consultant to the 2000 National Commission on Terrorism.
  • David Heyman, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security—Heyman currently serves as a senior fellow and director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Homeland Security Program and an adjunct professor in security studies at Georgetown University.

Notice: The purpose of this newsletter is to identify select developments that may be of interest to readers. The information contained herein is abridged and summarized from various sources, the accuracy and completeness of which cannot be assured. This alert should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel