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US Army Hopes Military Construction Budget Passes Soon January 12, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Military News, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Army hopes Congress will soon act on the 2007 military construction budget, so the Defense Department can build new barracks for soldiers returning from war duty, a top general said this week.

Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said the Army will have to rely on temporary housing because Congress hasn’t approved a 2007 budget bill.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if our MilCon dollars were on time and when they come back from combat they move into permanent facilities? Won’t be the case,” Cody said at a breakfast sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army.

Democrats seek to wrap military construction into a “joint funding resolution” on 2007 budgets for many federal agencies. U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., and U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., new appropriations committee leaders, want to include military construction in a broad budget for the federal government.

But Republicans say military construction needs separate and urgent attention. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. has proposed new legislation to fund about $17 billion in military construction projects and other changes required by the latest round of base-closure plans. Inhofe’s office said keeping funding at 2006 levels would fund only $1 billion in existing construction projects, far less than what is needed.

Last year, the House and Senate approved budget bills for veterans affairs and military construction, but the legislation was never reconciled and passed into law.

The Army says it needs to get its military construction funding in place so it can take care of soliders and move ahead with its new Base Realignment and Closure plan. The planned base closures and changes in overseas troop levels are intended to save money in the long run. Cody said the Army needs better facilities so it can recruit, retain and take care of its troops.

“We’ve got a moral obligation to do this,” Cody said.

By Rebecca Christie, Dow Jones Newswires

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