Newspaper article Roll Call

Congress Added $10 Billion Plus since 9/11 for Secretive National Guard Fund

Newspaper article Roll Call

Congress Added $10 Billion Plus since 9/11 for Secretive National Guard Fund

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Congress Added $10 Billion Plus Since 9/11 for Secretive National Guard Fund

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* By John M. Donnelly

* Roll Call Staff

* June 3, 2015, 6:59 p.m.

The equipment for America's National Guard and Reserve is increasingly funded through an account that contains money not requested by the president, not capped by the budget law and not subject to much open oversight, according to assessments by CQ and the government spending monitors at Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment Account has been around since 1981. But it has grown significantly in recent years-ever since it was moved to the war budget, the size of which is not restricted by the budget control law. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Guard and Reserve equipment fund has reaped more than $10 billion that was not part of any budget request.

Just a few years ago, Congress generally added a couple of hundred million dollars annually to the account. But each year since fiscal 2012, when caps on the Pentagon's non-war budgets were instituted, the off-budget fund for the Guard has swelled to $1 billion or more in annual appropriations, part of a larger expansion of the war account for items not always related to Iraq, Afghanistan or any other conflict.

This week, the House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2016 Defense spending bill that would allocate $1.5 billion for the fund in the coming fiscal year alone, which would be a high water mark.

The U.S. military vigorously defends the fund. But the White House Office of Management and Budget director, Shaun Donovan, wrote to House appropriators this week that adding the funding for the special Guard account is "unnecessary."

To Stephen Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that monitors federal spending and that has closely tracked the Guard fund, it is a "backdoor" and "unregulated" way to secure funds from Congress.

"I'm sure the Guard can use some of this equipment," he says. …

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