Blue Dogs Stand Ready to Work with Admiral Mullen to Bring Accountability to Iraq War Funding

Jan 31, 2008
Press Release

Today, members of the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition commended the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, for his recent statement in support of ending the irresponsible practice of funding U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through emergency supplementals, rather than through the normal appropriations process.  The Blue Dogs, who have introduced and endorsed a measure which would accomplish this goal, stand ready to work with Admiral Mullen to reform the funding process so that Congress and the American people have a clear understanding about what tax dollars are being spent on the war in Iraq.

In January of 2007, the Coalition introduced H.Res. 97, “Providing for Operation Iraqi Freedom cost accountability,” a measure which puts forward tangible, commonsense proposals that ensure future transparency and accountability in the funding of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  A critical component of this legislation addresses the need to fund the war in Iraq through the normal appropriations process rather than through fiscally irresponsible and highly misleading emergency supplementals.

“To be fiscally responsible, all costs must be included in the federal budget,” said Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National and Homeland Security.   “Putting Iraq war costs on budget helps us compare and contrast with funding for children’s health care, benefits for wounded veterans, and other priorities, so that Congress can make informed choices.”

“There is a glaring lack of accountability with regard to how our government is funding the war in Iraq – this is as clear today as it was when the Blue Dogs first introduced H.Res. 97 over a year ago,” said Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “I’m encouraged by Admiral Mullen’s comments.  We owe it to the American taxpayer to work together to secure passage of this critical piece of legislation.”

“Pennsylvania families and families across America are frustrated with the billions of dollars and thousands of weapons missing in Iraq and it’s long past time for accountability.  We shouldn’t put war funding on the national credit card and our Blue Dog legislation will make sure that we finally go through the normal budget process and demand the answers we so desperately need,” said Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National and Homeland Security.

“Borrowing money for Iraq from foreign countries and saddling our grandkids with the debt is something I’ve been critical of since President Bush chose to go to war,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA).  “His war should compete in the budget with every other U.S. program.  That way, the American people can better understand the true cost of the nearly $300 million a day price tag of Mr. Bush's war. Moreover, by funding the war through the federal budget, Congress can fulfill its duty to ensure taxpayer dollars are being properly spent, not lining the pockets of contractors.  I'm glad the DoD has finally seen the light.”

“It’s clear that the term “emergency” no longer applies to our funding for Iraq and that the continued use of supplemental spending packages is inappropriate,” said Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy.  “Our efforts in Iraq deserve the same level of oversight and accountability that is given to the rest of our federal spending, which is why those figures should be included in the regular Pentagon budget request.”

With H.Res. 97, members of the Blue Dog Coalition have taken a practical approach to replacing waste, fraud and abuse with oversight, responsibility and accountability.  In addition to requiring that funding for the war come through the normal appropriations process, H.Res. 97 focuses on three crucial points for demanding fiscal responsibility in Iraq:  a call for transparency on how Iraq war funds are spend; the creation of a Truman commission to investigate the awarding of contracts; and using American resources to improve Iraqi assumption of internal policing operations.