House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) this afternoon added his voice to the growing chorus calling for passage of the fiscal year 2010 emergency supplemental spending bill. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):
I know you understand the importance of national security and I know you are working hard to provide the Armed Forces with all the resources necessary to carry out their missions. I am writing to respectfully request that you schedule a vote at the earliest possible opportunity on a Fiscal Year 2010 Supplemental Appropriations bill containing at least $37 billion for overseas contingency operations of the Department of Defense.
The Department of Defense urgently needs supplemental funding in order to avoid inefficient and costly budget work-arounds in the immediate future. In order to ensure that a supplemental appropriations bill can be forwarded to the President's desk for his signature as quickly as possible, I urge that the bill be constructed so that it can obtain broad bi-partisan support in the United States Senate. The long-standing tradition of bi-partisan support of the Armed Forces in times of war should continue to be our guide in this most critical of times for national security, and particularly in this critical hour for our ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
I recognize that the Senate has already passed just such a bill, H.R. 4899, with a Senate amendment which the House has returned to the Senate with a further amendment. I believe that Congress must conclude its work on this measure as soon as possible. I appreciate your hard work on this legislation which continues your years of dedicated support to the Armed Forces. A critical hour is upon us and I know you will continue to act in the nation's best interest.
As Inside the Pentagon reported last week:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is "disappointed" that Congress did not pass the bill before July 4, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. The services "will now have to begin cash-flowing operating costs for war activities using their base budgets," Morrell said. "But because of where we are in the fiscal calendar, this option won't last very long. So absent more drastic action, we project that certain Army and Marine Corps accounts will run dry in August." Lawmakers must pass the bill before their next break in August, he argued.