September 6, 2016 5:29 PM
There was a time when the Defense Authorization Bill wasn’t generally used as a political football. Can’t say exactly when that ended, but a morning story from Politico notes the unusual step of the Pentagon openly coordinating a political plan as part of the executive branch.
The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work, reads at times like an intelligence assessment of congressional leaders. It provides an unusually clear window into the tactics the Defense Department’s top officials are using in an increasingly partisan feud over their budget — particularly striking for an agency that seeks to avoid the perception of involvement in election-year politics.
The strategy it lays out will come to a head as Congress returns Tuesday, and will probably spill into the lame-duck session, as the House and Senate decide whether to include an extra $18 billion in war funding in the final defense authorization and appropriations bills they send to President Barack Obama.
As predicted in the story, Republican members of Congress are not amused. Senator Isakson has forwarded the following reaction:
“I am appalled by the new low that this partisan administration has sunk to, blatantly playing politics with funding for our troops,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “As if it weren’t enough that Senate Democrats continue to filibuster funding for active-duty troops and our veterans, now the Pentagon is putting politics over national defense with the shockingly irresponsible and outright shameful political strategy laid out in its memo leaked over the weekend. I urge my Democrat colleagues in the Senate to abandon political games and support critical funding for our warfighters who deserve far better from this administration.”
In an era of bitterly divided partisanship, expect everything to be political between now and November 8th. There are no sacred cows. This includes our troops.