DeMint: Defense Pork Should Be Used to Help Troops
Responding to the failure of Democrats in Congress to pass emergency funding for our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced today that he will seek to pass legislation giving the Pentagon authority to transfer some $4.9 billion in earmark funding to support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to shift funds to support troops in the field, this week the U.S. Army has been forced to send furlough notices to commanders at military installations across the country where almost 100,000 civilian Defense Department employees may be laid-off.
"Democrats will have to choose what is most important to them: their pork for special interests or funding for our troops in harm's way," said Senator DeMint. "This Democrat Congress should be embarrassed that they are about to take a vacation without funding our men and women in uniform who will spend their Christmas on the battlefield."
"If Democrats continue to grandstand for their liberal anti-war base, lawmakers in Washington should be forced give up some of their own pet projects to help our troops. Democrats will have to determine if they will force a hundred thousand Americans out of work before they would give up their earmarks."
The Defense appropriations bill that passed in November of this year contained over 2,000 earmarks totaling nearly $5 billion. Projects in the Defense bill included millions of tax dollars for a golf charity and brown tree snakes. It also directs $23 million to a drug center in Pennsylvania at the request of Congressman Jack Murtha (D-Pennsylvania), even though the U.S. Department of Justice has said they don't want it and requested that the facility be closed.
"The funds from these pet projects would delay lay-offs for three weeks and give the Democrats more time to get their act together," said Senator DeMint.
According to a Fox News report: "Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England has notified Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin that a notice of pending furloughs will be sent this week to the commanders of military installations where 100,000 affected civilian employees and contractors work. According to an official in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the letters are to be mailed on Wednesday."
According to an analysis done by the Congressional Research Service, Senator DeMint's measure to allow earmark funds to be transferred would cover war-related Army Operations and Maintenance expenses for an additional three weeks. The memo provided to Senator DeMint on December 10, 2007 said his measure would "extend the time before a furlough was deemed to be necessary from DOD's current estimate of the end of the third week of February to the end of the second week of March 2008."