Overlooking Congressional Ban, Pentagon to Fund NATO Missile Defense

Hagel: Pleased to Fulfill Our 'Commitment'

by Jason Ditz, April 09, 2013

So much for the powers of the purse.

Congress may have formally banned the Pentagon from further funding of the NATO Medium Extended Air and Missile Defense System (MEADS) in December, but that hasn’t stopped Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel from announcing that the funds will continue anyhow.

“I am pleased we are able to fulfill our commitment,” Hagel said, while other officials insisted the move was an obligation as a NATO member nation and that they could simply fund it whether or not Congress objects.

And they’re going to object. The continuing resolution passed last month included money for “termination costs” for the program, conditioned on them not being used for anything but early termination fees to military contractors. At the time, officials added that “the prohibition in the NDAA is law, and nothing in this bill or report overrides or changes that fact.”

Pentagon officials griped about it at the time, and now they insist they’ll use that money to fund the program instead of its termination. House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing adds that they believe the Pentagon’s move is in direct violation of US law, though it appears they won’t actually be able to do anything about it.

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