As congressional appropriators begin work this week on an emergency supplemental spending bill to pay for expenses arising out of the conflict in Yugoslavia, the Concord Coalition today warned that the legitimate need for an emergency supplemental bill must not become a means of funding permanent additions to the defense budget such as pay and pension increases.
"Stealth technology belongs on the battlefield, not in the budget process," said Robert Bixby, Policy Director of the Concord Coalition.
"If Congress decides that it is in the national interest to increase defense spending, over and above the amount needed to pay for the current emergency, it should make that determination through the usual appropriations process."
"By declaring an open-ended defense spending emergency, Congress could technically comply with the discretionary spending caps while funneling billions of dollars through a loophole. Last year's $20 billion misuse of the emergency exception shows how easily this can happen," said Bixby.
"If the budget caps need to be raised to pay for our involvement in this conflict it would be best to do so in a straightforward, honest manner," Bixby said.
As defined in the budget resolution adopted on April 15, an emergency must be:
Necessary -- essential or vital, not merely useful or beneficial;
Sudden -- quickly coming into being, not building up over time;
Urgent -- a pressing and compelling need requiring immediate action;
Unforeseen -- unpredictable or unanticipated;
Not permanent -- temporary in nature.
"Given these criteria, an emergency supplemental bill is justified to pay for the unexpected expenses that will be incurred this year because of the conflict in Yugoslavia. But items such as the military pay raise, 'Redux' repeal, and other general funding increases not directly arising out of the emergency situation do not qualify," said Bixby.