Senate Stalls Defense Spending Bill

Article excerpt

On August 4, the U.S. Senate left town for its summer recess before voting on the $468.4 billion defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007. The bill contains funds the Army desperately needs to fight the global war on terrorism. If the bill had passed, it would have gone into conference with the version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives before a final vote and a signature by President George W. Bush.

The earliest the Senate can begin work on the bill will be September 5. The defense authorization bill also was not completed before the summer recess.

"The Army is depending on Congress to set the conditions for tactical and strategic success in 2007 and beyond," emphasized Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan when he learned of the Senate's exit without action. "Timely defense appropriations and authorization and military construction bills are essential," he added. "These three pieces of legislation must be passed in September."

The Senate added a $13.1 billion amendment to the bill to give the military the money it needs to repair and replace equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army requested $17.1 billion for its equipment next year. The amendment adds $7.8 billion towards that goal while $6 billion has already been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The remaining $3.3 billion would likely come from a supplemental spending bill expected to pass next spring.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill, with $427.6 billion in spending, on June 20.

"Dire Situation" for Guard. Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, reports that the National Guard is "in an even more dire situation than the active Army." His comments came after a meeting with members of Congress in early August, in which it was disclosed that two-thirds of the active Army brigades are not combat ready. Gen. Blum reported that two-thirds of the National Guard's 34 brigades are also not ready for combat. He said that the active Army and the National Guard "have the same symptoms, [but the Guard has] a higher fever. …