U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following statement today regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's amendment to offset sequestration budget cuts for fiscal year 2013 by transferring funds from the Department of Defense's Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.
"Sen. Reid's amendment to cut future Overseas Contingency Operation funding in order to offset current sequestration cuts is an irresponsible budget gimmick that undermines our national security and sends a terrible message to allies and adversaries alike at a time when we face the greatest array of threats in generations," said Inhofe. "What he is proposing is not about saving money from the troop drawdown in Afghanistan; it's about further hollowing out our military. This emergency account being targeted directly supports our forces deployed in combat operations around the world, helping to fund their equipment, readiness, training, and operational needs of our allies directly supporting us. Furthermore, our military relies on these funds to fully restore the readiness of its units and equipment after the cessation of combat operations to ensure they're capable and prepared for future missions. Given the vital importance of this funding, Congress has never subjected OCO to budget caps or reductions like those proposed by Sen. Reid.
"We do not know for sure where around the world our military will be called upon in the future. Capping future OCO accounts completely abrogates our responsibility to provide for our warfighters. Our military has already paid more than its share under the Obama Administration. Sen. Reid's amendment dodges the hard decisions necessary to restore fiscal responsibility and instead takes from those who are willing to sacrifice it all on our nation's behalf. It's budget cowardice on the backs of our warfighters."
On March 1, Inhofe and Chairman Carl Levin sent a letter to Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions outlining views and estimates for the FY'14 Defense Budget. In the letter, the Senators stated that the DoD faces additional demands on the budget due to sequestration impacts and requested the Budget Committee increase the DOD base budget by up to 3 percent to address the long-term impacts. The Senate Budget did not include the requested 3 percent, and attempts by Inhofe to amend the budget resolution were shut down by the majority.