No Defense Secretary has testified before the Senate Budget Committee since the war in Iraq began nearly four years and $400 billion dollars ago.
Prior to being sworn in, Secretary Robert Gates pledged to Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) that he would appear before the committee. But after agreeing to testify next Thursday, Gates abruptly cancelled. Conrad and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), the ranking member on the committee, wrote Gates yesterday asking him to appear by March 1.
The timing of Gates’ cancellation is noteworthy, coming “less than a week after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) alarmed lawmakers by projecting that the president’s plan to increase troop numbers in Iraq could cost more than four times the $5.6 billion promised by the Bush administration.”