With Wars ‘Winding Down’ Pentagon Spending Is Up — Thanks to Cash Payments to Pro-war Politicians

April 5th, 2015 - by admin

Julia Harte and Alexander Cohen / The Center for Public Integrity – 2015-04-05 23:42:34


Lawmakers Boost War Spending as the Wars Wind Down
A Pentagon budget account for the wars becomes an ever-larger slush fund

Julia Harte and Alexander Cohen / The Center for Public Integrity

(March 24, 2015) — The 2016 House and Senate budget proposals for war spending that moved toward a congressional floor vote this week were loaded up with tens of billions of dollars more than the Defense Department requested, representing the largest increase lawmakers have attempted to add to the executive branch’s requests for such funds.

These moves — which come as the Obama administration tries to wind down the US war in Afghanistan and to steer clear of a large new incursion in Iraq — were pushed through by Republican lawmakers that since 2003 have received a total $8 million in contributions from the political action committees and employees of top defense contractors, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

The proposals emerged from a convoluted congressional debate that pitted pro-defense hawks against federal deficit hawks, with the former — backed by defense industry lobbying — emerging triumphant.

The impetus for boosting war spending is that Congress enacted strict controls on regular Pentagon spending in 2011 and alleviated them only slightly last fiscal year, making a cut likely unless the Pentagon and the defense industry found new funds elsewhere.

Supportive lawmakers as a result turned to the only military account not subject to spending caps, namely the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a funding category created in 2001 for temporary expenditures associated with combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the Center for Public Integrity reported in December, OCO over the years has become a slush fund for lawmakers and administration officials seeking to retain or expand military programs with no direct relationship to those wars.

But they’ve never sought to do it as blatantly or unashamedly as they did this month, when the Senate Budget Committee voted in a straight party-line vote to spend $96 billion in the OCO budget for 2016, and the House Budget Committee voted similarly to spend $94 billion. The amount appropriated for OCO in 2015 was $63 billion.

While no precise listing of the additional programs to be funded under the Republican proposals has yet been released, lawmakers who favored the OCO increases did not assert that the extra funds were needed only for the wars.

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) were the principal sponsors of the successful Senate amendment to grow the OCO account. In urging a positive vote, Graham — who is exploring a presidential run — provided a long but imprecise list of security threats:
“Everything that you have in common, radical Islam hates, and if somebody doesn’t do something about it soon, they will come our way again,” he told the committee, adding that increases to the OCO account were needed “to defend the nation.”

Signaling a difference of views among Republicans, the House Rules Committee on Monday night approved two versions of the OCO provision, requiring a final decision on the House floor. One sets OCO spending at $94 billion but requires $20 billion of that sum to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere, and another sets OCO spending at $96 billion while not requiring any offsets.

In total, the 67 current members of the House and Senate Budget and House Rules committees have received $15.6 million in adjusted dollars from the 2013 fiscal year top 75 defense contractors’ PACS and employees, from 2003 through the end of the 2014 election season.

On average, the top defense contractors gave Republicans $264,244 apiece while Democrats and Independents received $189,881. The lion’s share of contractor support went to the Senate Budget Committee’s 12 Republicans. The contractors’ PACs and employees contributed $5.7 million to their campaigns and leadership PACs, or an average of $472,219 per lawmaker.

Republicans on the House Rules committee received a total of $2.3 million, making them the second-highest average recipients of contractor largesse.

Graham received $760,244. The other sponsor of the amendment to increase the OCO fund, Ayotte, has less seniority than Graham but is one of the top average recipients of defense contractor contributions, calculated on a two-year basis, among the 67 committee members. First elected to the Senate in 2010, she’s raised $363,205 from the top contractors.

Two Senate Budget Democrats were also among the top 10 recipients of defense contractor contributions, though they voted against the Graham and Ayotte amendment. Hailing from a state that many defense companies call home, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia received $1,053,271 in adjusted dollars. He was followed by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the fourth highest recipient overall, who received $823,536 in adjusted dollars.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) disputed Graham’s claims during last week’s Senate Budget Committee hearing, saying the United States already spends more on defense than the next nine countries, and he rebuked his fellow senators for adding to the national deficit. “Republicans took us into protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and ran up our national debt by trillions because they chose not to pay for those wars,” he said in a prepared statement.

The Center calculated campaign contributions in 2014 dollars from the top 75 defense contractors, as ranked in fiscal 2013, using campaign data compiled by The Center for Responsive Politics as well as data from the Federal Election Commission.

Contributions to House Budget and Rules, Senate Budget committee members from top defense contractors.

Members Who Voted for Increased War Spending.
Total contributions, adjusted for inflation, 2003-2014

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. — $1,053,270

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio — $873,210

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas — $850,564

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. — $823,535

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. — $800,188

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — $796,643

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. — $600,463

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. — $567,110

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa — $500,102

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. — $462,942

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas — $452,788

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho — $429,713

Rep. Tom Price, R-Iowa — $374,333

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. — $366,507

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. — $363,204

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. — $357,383

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. — $338,372

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — $309,474

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio — $301,900

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. — $297,817

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — $277,285

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind. — $275,330

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio — $262,836

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. — $257,387

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. — $255,270

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. — $250,632

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. — $250,451

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. — $208,889

Rep. Diane Lynn Black, R-Tenn. — $200,396

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. — $177,205

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. — $171,569

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. — $159,697

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. — $141,968

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. — $128,075

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J. — $117,075

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind. — $113,768

Rep. Vernon Buchanan, R-Fla. — $105,479

Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass. — $102,049

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla. — $99,287

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis. — $89,390

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. — $83,258

Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C. — $80,805

Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga. — $80,167

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. — $74,770

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. — $73,614

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. — $63,472

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. — $63,071

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. — $58,570

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga. — $54,400

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine — $50,500

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. — $45,500

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. — $44,084

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. — $43,481

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich. — $36,600

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga. — $34,500

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. — $34,300

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. — $27,250

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. — $25,750

Rep. Don Norcross, D-N.J. — $20,350

Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis. — $16,000

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va. — $14,701

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. — $14,093

Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich. — $8,950

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. — $3,400

Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa — $2,991

Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark. — $2,000

Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala. — $2,000

Source: Center for Public Integrity analysis of campaign finance records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Election Commission

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