Congress’ Memorial Day Message to the Troops: Make Do While We Go On Vacation

On Feb. 16, 2006, President Bush requested $72.4 billion in supplemental funds for continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just over three months later, the current Do-Nothing Congress has yet to pass the bill, and is instead busy fighting over how much pork to keep.

Earlier this week, the conference committee that is negotiating a final bill announced that it would not complete the bill before Memorial Day. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the chief House negotiator, said, “We have communicated with the individual military services and while it is not preferable, they have informed us that they can tolerate a delay into June,” Lewis said. “I am confident that Congress will clear the measure quickly after the Memorial Day district work period.”

But Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, takes a different view from Lewis. Because the Congress has failed to act, he said the military will be forced slow down its supply operations for the troops. According to the Hill:

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, said the Army will be forced to slow down some of its operations’ backbone because Congress decided to postpone the completion of the 2006 emergency supplemental until after the Memorial Day break.

“We have to pull all these levers to slow down,” Schoomaker said at a breakfast sponsored by The Hill. In order to stretch its funds until a new infusion of cash is available, the Army will have to slow down its logistics and supply operations among other things, he pointed out. [“¦]

He added that it is “ironic” the Army has to resort to such measures on the eve of Memorial Day.

Failing to pass legislation to fund the troops seems an appropriate Memorial Day message for a Congress that is on schedule to meet for the fewest days of any Congress since 1948.