The Bush administration has been trying to force Congress to abandon its support for an Iraq withdrawal time line by claiming that a “clean” Iraq spending bill must be signed by mid-April or U.S. troops will suffer. The Hill reported, the Pentagon and the White House have been “sounding alarms and sketching worst-case scenarios if Congress does not pass the 2007 supplemental by April 15.”
Renewing his veto threat on Wednesday, President Bush told Congress “the clock is ticking for our troops in the field“:
BUSH: Congress continues to pursue these [withdrawal] bills, and as they do, the clock is ticking for our troops in the field. Funding for our forces in Iraq will begin to run out in mid-April. Members of Congress need to stop making political statements, and start providing vital funds for our troops.
Meanwhile, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and others have been arguing that Bush is wrong, and that funds won’t dry up until June, giving plenty of time for negotiations:
Murtha says he believes the April 15 date for funds running out is incorrect. Based on the inquiries he’s made, he said, the Pentagon will start running out of money at the beginning of June.
“We’ve never had a year where they didn’t give us bad information,” said Murtha, who’s known for his contacts inside the military. “We’ve been asking people and we think it’ll be the end of May.”
In a memo to the Senate Budget Committee dated Wednesday, the congressional analysts said the Army has enough money in its existing budget to fund operations and maintenance through the end of May — about $52.6 billion. If additional transfer authority is tapped, subject to Congress approving a reprogramming request, the Army would have enough funds to make it through nearly two additional months, or toward the end of July. Using all of its transfer authority, the Army could have as much as $60.1 billion available.
See the full CRS report HERE.
Commenting on the report, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “This study confirms that the President is once again attempting to mislead the public and create an artificial atmosphere of anxiety. He is using scare tactics to defeat bipartisan legislation that would change course in Iraq.”