Although the Department of Defense (DOD has begun a massive buildup of troops in the Middle East in the aftermath of the October 7th attacks against Israel, the department has no money to pay for such efforts due to ongoing congressional gridlock.
Politico reports that, while Congress is still debating a long-term funding solution for the whole of the federal government, the DOD continues to operate under a temporary funding measure that forbids spending at any level that surpasses the previous year’s total. Due to the unexpected nature of the October 7th attacks and the subsequent proportional troop buildup, the Pentagon has been forced to reallocate funds from existing operations.
The redirection of funds has since resulted in less money for other DOD functions such as training and military exercises, some of which were already planned for the year.
“Current events have revised some of the operational assumptions used to develop the FY 2024 President’s Budget request,” said DOD spokesman Chris Sherwood. “Specifically, neither the base budget request nor the FY 2024 supplemental request included funding for U.S. operations related to Israel. We’re taking it out of hide.”
The DOD is still working on confirming the estimated total cost of American support for Israel thus far, which includes the extended deployment of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group in the Mediterranean Sea. But the nature of temporary continuing resolutions, like the one most recently passed by Congress and signed into law by Joe Biden, makes funding for such efforts more unstable.
“We’ve gotten used to getting by, CR to CR, but it’s with significant consequence,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, referring to Congress’ tendency to pass continuing resolutions rather than long-term funding bills. “That has a cost. You can’t buy back the time. You just can’t.”
Furthermore, the financial strain on the DOD is now even greater as the department deals with attempts to support two different nations at war at the same time: Ukraine and Israel. The funding provided by the most recent continuing resolution runs out on February 2nd, at which point Congress must either pass a more long-term bill or risk a government shutdown.