The Obama administration and the lame duck Congress will be testing the waters of compromise as the president seeks rapid approval of additional war funds and a new authorization to continue the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State.
The administration will submit a request for an additional $5.6 billion in overseas contingency operations funds on top of the $58.6 billion it requested in June for fiscal year 2015. This new request comes on the heels of a separate $6.2 billion emergency funding proposal to deal with the Ebola crisis.
The president is asking for additional funds because of “unanticipated costs” in the war against the Islamic State, a White House official said Nov. 7. The proposal includes $5 billion for the Defense Department and $520 million for the State Department.
The Pentagon would send an additional 1,500 advisers and support forces — on top of the 1,400 already there — to help Iraq train its army to fight ISIL, as the Islamic State is known. Of the $5 billion in new funds, $3.4 billion would pay for U.S. personnel costs and equipment, and $1.6 billion would fund training and equipment for Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The State Department would use its share of the funds for diplomatic initiatives, including assistance to Jordan and Lebanon, and humanitarian aid to Syrian opposition groups.
White House officials said Nov. 7 that they will urge Congress to approve the overseas contingency operations funds, known as OCO, by Dec. 11. That is also the date when a temporary measure to fund federal agencies expires and Congress must either approve new funding or risk another government shutdown.
The administration wants Congress to approve war funds and a full-year appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 during the lame-duck session while Democrats are still in control of the U.S. Senate. Officials also are seeking bipartisan support from Congress to continue to fight ISIL by way of a new authorization for the use of military force. The last AUMF was passed in 2001. White House officials are asking for a new AUMF as an “expression of support” that would send a united message that the president and Congress are acting together.
“We need the authorization and the funding that comes with it in order to be able to conduct this mission,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “obviously is urging Congress to pass it as soon as possible,” Kirby told reporters Nov. 7