Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced the Restraining Emergency War Spending Act to place Congressional controls on the use of emergency funding for enduring wars. Congress has appropriated over $2 Trillion of defense emergency funds over the past two decades with largely amorphous requirements, and the funds have been spent on everything from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to standard deterrence missions in the European theater.
These reforms would prescribe a statutory definition to classify emergency war spending, and establish a permanent budget point of order against measures that include emergency war spending outside the definition.
Of the bill Sen. Lee said, “The days of endless wars and trillion-dollar defense slush funds must come to an end. Congress needs to better control, define, and oversee emergency defense spending to make sure American blood and treasure is not committed and lost needlessly. This bill will allow Congress to better perform its constitutional roles of overseeing our nation’s defense budget and wars.”
The bill is endorsed by National Taxpayers Union, the R Street Institute, the Project on Government Oversight, and Concerned Veterans for America. Andrew Lautz of the National Taxpayers Union said of the bill, “National Taxpayers Union applauds Sen. Lee for introducing this new legislation to put guardrails on the future use of off-budget war accounts. As Sen. Lee and NTU have pointed out, the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account morphed from a contingency fund in the immediate years after 9/11 to a slush fund for wasteful projects and programs that couldn’t make it into the military’s regular budget. Though OCO is gone for the upcoming year, Congress must guard against future abuse of off-budget designations like OCO. Sen. Lee’s legislation would give Congress some much-needed muscle against the abuse of war funding.”