Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan to use unspent war funds to delay pending federal equals 'cowardice.' (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The top Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Republican on Wednesday blasted Majority Leader Harry Reid, saying the Nevada Democrat’s plan to use unspent war funds to delay pending federal cuts equals “cowardice.”
At issue is a move announced by Reid on Tuesday to use more than $600 billion — all unspent monies — in the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations account to delay some of the 10-year cuts to planned federal spending known as sequestration.
“There’s about $650 billion there,” Reid said. “Let’s use a small part of that to delay sequestration for five months. We’re going to move to that later this afternoon.”
Reid was calling Republican lawmakers’ bluff. Earlier Tuesday, some GOP senators took to the Senate floor to pan sequester-spawned flight delays at major airports.
The majority leader noted raiding the OCO account, filled with unspent dollars due to troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, was proposed in House Republicans’ own 2014 budget plan, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
But hawkish lawmakers oppose the idea.
“Sen. Reid’s amendment to cut future Overseas Contingency Operation funding in order to offset current sequestration cuts is an irresponsible budget gimmick that undermines our national security and sends a terrible message to allies and adversaries alike at a time when we face the greatest array of threats in generations,” said SASC Ranking Member James Inhofe, R-Okla. “What he is proposing is not about saving money from the troop draw down in Afghanistan; it’s about further hollowing out our military.”
Inhofe contends that’s because “this emergency account being targeted directly supports our forces deployed in combat operations around the world, helping to fund their equipment, readiness, training.”
Inhofe concluded the statement by throwing a political jab at the majority leader: “Sen. Reid’s amendment dodges the hard decisions necessary to restore fiscal responsibility and instead takes from those who are willing to sacrifice it all on our nation’s behalf. It’s budget cowardice on the backs of our warfighters.”