Defense spending

Thursday, May 27, 2004

St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press

In the latest round of Senate Armed Services committee hearings about prisoner abuse in Iraq, it became clear that the power of the purse still resides on Capitol Hill and that senators intend for the Pentagon to know that the time has expired on writing blank checks for the Iraq war.

It is virtually certain Congress will honor the administration's request for $25 billion in additional funds for Iraq and Afghanistan. If the bipartisan reactions to the request reflect the whole Senate, it is also certain that ... the administration will no longer enjoy minimal oversight as it had on previous appropriations for its war spending.

This new caution is born of not only the scandal of the moment, but of a pattern of secrecy and arrogance about it that Congress is no longer in the mood to tolerate as it considers defense spending of about $425 billion for the next fiscal year.

... Now, even in a time when one party, the Republicans, control Congress and the executive, it is clear that concern over policies is overrunning partisan discipline that has been so effective in the last two years.

War spending in Afghanistan and Iraq is approaching $5 billion a month. On behalf of the American people, Congress has the right and duty to understand how that money is being spent to make the United States and the Middle East safer and more secure in the future.

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