AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES: It’s an enviable yet daunting problem: How can the Pentagon make sure a lot of money doesn’t slosh over the sides as the services race to spend a full-year’s budget increase of $80 billion in six months? At a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting yesterday, New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen indicated the problem will be addressed with increased flexibility to spend the money into the next fiscal year, which begins Oct 1. That’s all predicated on the assumption Congress will in fact enact the bipartisan budget deal it forged last month by the March 23 deadline.
“Sometimes when you get a huge bucket of money people say, ‘This is the gold mine,’ ” Frelinghuysen told Navy leaders at a House Appropriations defense subcommittee session. “I think we worked out a path forward to provide that degree of flexibility you and the other services are looking for,” he said. To which Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer replied, “Outstanding. We welcome that with open arms. We will not do any sort of, quote-unquote, ‘foolish spending.’ We can’t afford to.”
Earlier in the week, Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters told the McAleese Defense Conference that the Marine Corps needs authority to “cross the fiscal boundary” to spend some fiscal 2018 money in fiscal 2019. “Just give us the authority to spend across the line or money is going to dry up on the vine,” he pleaded.
‘GOD-AWFUL’ ABUSES: The same question came up on the other side of Capitol Hill, where the Senate Budget Committee was taking testimony on the Pentagon’s promise to finally complete a full audit of the department’s spending. “What we’ll likely see in this omnibus that’s coming before us in a few weeks is some of the most God-awful taxpayer abuses that we’ve ever seen, because things are being plussed up so quickly,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who is not running for reelection.