Collins Wants Supplemental

By Christopher J. Castelli / June 11, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) today urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to submit a supplemental budget request to Capitol Hill to cover higher-than-expected war costs, but Hagel was noncommittal.

One supplemental “to address this issue is not going to fix this problem,” Hagel said. “The only thing that's going to fix this problem is a change . . . in the sequestration, as you have heard, I know, countless times. Now, to your specific question, we have not considered a supplemental. I have not discussed a supplemental. So if that occurs, then we will -- we would look at it, and -- but that's about as far as I can go. We just had not looked at that . . . as a possibility.”

“Well, I would encourage you to do so because although I do not support the sequestration process and believe we should be setting priorities, and I'm very worried about the detrimental impact on the Department of Defense,” Collins replied. “The fact is that is not the total cause of the shortfall in the readiness accounts. And overall, across the department, between -- well, approximately a third of the shortfall is not due to sequestration; it's due to higher than anticipated war costs. So even if we abolish sequestration today, that does not solve the problem of your needing -- legitimately needing more money to deal with the anticipated -- underestimated war costs. And so I would ask you to look at the possibility of submitting a supplemental request.”

A spokeswoman for Collins, who said the senator has raised the issue before, had no comment on what further steps, if any, she might take to advocate a supplemental request.