Counter Terrorism Request Gets Frosty Reception on the Hill

House Armed Services Committee members from both sides of the aisle questioned the need for President Barack Obama’s $5 billion “Counter Terrorism Partnership Fund” on Wednesday. The formal request was included in the overseas contingency operations request delivered this week, of which $4 billion will be marked for Defense Department spending. HASC members noted there already are other funding mechanisms for CT cooperation. Defense Department officials said some of the funding would be marked for activities in Syria, and about $500 million would be marked for “crisis response.” Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith said the fund looks “open ended,” and wanted to know what restrictions were in place for the funding. “It is written so that it could be used for almost anything the Department does,” while circumventing normal reprogramming and transfer rules, he said. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said it’s meant to supplement other authorities, with Congress’ permission, and allow funding of various contingencies, such as assistance to allied CT operations in Africa, if events dictate the need. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) called the request a “slush fund” for the Pentagon to avoid spending caps, and criticized DOD for asking for a new funding stream when reports of waste and fraud continue to emerge from US officials inspecting Afghan war funding.