Massive military spending bills are often a battleground for deficit hawks and war hawks, as the former face allegations of not supporting the troops for trying to strip the most wasteful provisions from the budget.
This year’s battle is the same, with Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R – SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D – MD) leading the charge against a series of spending increases that are ultimately going into the black hole called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.
OCO was meant to be “emergency war funding” at its inception, but the exemption of war funding from spending caps and proposals aimed to allow the Pentagon to move OCO money wherever they please has made it an all-purpose slush fund, and the go-to choice for spending increases.
The new budget adds some $90 billion to the OCO, and Reps. Van Hollen and Mulvaney note that the Pentagon has conceded several of the projects added to the bill as OCO aren’t “war-related.”
“The gimmick undermines the budget process,” the two warned in an open letter, though Rep. Doug Lamborn (R – CO) is circulating a counter letter demanding all the OCO go through unchecked, saying anyone who really cares about “stopping terrorism” would vote for every single project without question.