Pentagon Leaders Admit Defense Funding “Wish Lists” Are a Bad Practice

Protection officers have been required to submit a budgetary “want listing” yearly since 2017.

Because the U.S. protection finances continues to soar to report heights, even the Pentagon is popping out towards the requirement that protection officers submit obligatory funding “want lists” annually, a apply that tacks on tens of billions of {dollars} to already sky-high finances requests.

In response to efforts by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Secretary of Protection Lloyd J. Austin III and Division of Protection Comptroller Michael McCord each got here out towards the requirement for officers to ship Congress an “unfunded priorities listing” on prime of the present finances request. These want lists, as they’re usually known as, quantity to the yearly budgets of entire agencies; in 2024, the Pentagon requested for $24 billion on prime of the $773 billion for its common finances.

The leaders say that they help Warren’s efforts to repeal the requirement for the company to submit “unfunded priorities lists.” Anti-war advocates and opponents of the requirement — which was carried out under President Donald Trump in 2017 — say that it represents yet one more manner so as to add absurd quantities of cash to the protection finances.

In a letter to Warren despatched final week, McCord wrote that Congress ought to “rethink the deserves of this method,” and that having leaders “submit priorities for extra funding absent the advantage of weighing prices and advantages throughout the division is just not an efficient strategy to illuminate our prime joint priorities.”

Then, in a listening to on Tuesday, Austin appeared to confess that the label of “unfunded” is a misnomer and that, certainly, the Pentagon could be simply effective with solely the tons of of billions of {dollars} it will get in funding yearly. In an exchange with Warren within the Senate, Austin mentioned that the Pentagon was capable of perform all of its operations with a lot lesser use of the want lists in the course of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and that the company is ready to craft a finances with out the add-ons.

“Secretary Austin, does DoD have enough instruments to handle rising threats with out counting on the unfunded priorities listing?” Warren requested.

“We do. And once more, we account for that as we construct the finances,” the Secretary of Protection mentioned.

Warren mentioned in a press release that such want lists only undermine the budget-making course of, permitting the Pentagon to bypass regular procedures to seize extra funding from federal coffers. “The finances course of requires making powerful selections and setting clear priorities, and requesting billions of {dollars} in ‘unfunded necessities’ has been undermining that course of,” she mentioned. “I’m glad that DoD agrees we have to repeal the requirement to offer these ‘want lists’.”

The Pentagon’s help for ending the want lists makes it abundantly clear that Congress is constant the apply solely as a result of lawmakers have a vested curiosity in funneling billions extra to the Protection Division and personal protection contractors; theoretically, the Pentagon’s stance ought to attraction to the deficit and fiscal responsibility hawks who endlessly criticize welfare spending whereas approving trillions of {dollars} for battle and imperialism.

Anti-war advocates say ending the mandate could be an vital step towards the final word purpose of lowering U.S. protection spending.

“These want lists lead to tens of billions of {dollars} in Pentagon finances will increase for congressional pet tasks and pork. No different company has a mandated alternative for a second chew on the finances apple,” mentioned Lindsay Koshgarian, director of the Nationwide Priorities Challenge, in a press release emailed to Truthout. “Ending the want listing requirement — and ending the want lists themselves — could be an vital first step towards bringing Pentagon spending below management.”

Subsequent 12 months’s protection finances is about, but once more, to achieve a report excessive. President Joe Biden has known as for a towering $886 billion in navy spending for 2024 — and Congress will doubtless tack on tens of billions extra to that finances, as lawmakers typically do, inching the nation nearer to the grim milestone of a $1 trillion annual navy finances.

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