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News :: Politics
Gates says military can't cover its costs: Layoffs possible if war bill is delayed
17 Nov 2007
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that unless Congress passes funding for the Iraq war within days, he will direct the Army and Marine Corps to begin developing plans to lay off employees and terminate contracts early next year.
By ROBERT BURNS
and ANNE FLAHERTY
Associated Press writers
Friday, November 16, 2007

Gates, who met with members of Congress on Wednesday, said that he does not have the money or the flexibility to move funding around to adequately cover the costs of the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"There is a misperception that this department can continue funding our troops in the field for an indefinite period of time through accounting maneuvers, that we can shuffle money around the department. This is a serious misconception," Gates told reporters.

As a result, he said that he is faced with the task of preparing to cease operations at Army bases by mid-February, and lay off about 100,000 defense department employees and an equal number of civilian contractors. A month later, he said, similar moves would have to be made by the Marines.

Some members of Congress believe the Pentagon can switch enough money to cover the war accounts, Gates said. But he added that he only has the flexibility to transfer about $3.7 billion — which is just one week's worth of war expenses. Congress, he said, may not understand how complicated and restrictive the situation is.

The House on Wednesday passed, 218-203, a $50 billion bill that would pay for the wars but require that troops start to leave Iraq in 30 days. It sets a goal of ending combat by December 2008, as well as establishing interrogations standards that would make waterboarding — or simulated drowning — illegal.

The Senate planned to vote as early as today on the measure. The bill was expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

http://www.courierpress.com/news/2007/nov/16/gates-saysmilitarycant-cove/

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