Don't limit military funding

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2007

By Staff
With the holiday season upon us and Christmas quickly approaching, it is imperative that we take time to remember not only the brave men and women who serve overseas in defense of our nation, but also their loved ones here at home. So often we become absorbed in our own lives and forget about the sacrifices our servicemembers and their families make each day.
As Congress finishes its legislative year, passage of supplemental war funding for our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - without any conditions or strings attached - is the most important way my colleagues in the Senate and I can support our men and women in uniform. While some claim that the Department of Defense can continue operating through February 2008 by reprogramming funding from other accounts, the Department has continually stated that such a maneuver would be extremely disruptive to operations both at home and abroad. The Department has even announced that without additional war funding, they would be forced to shut down Army bases, except for essential services, and furlough approximately 200,000 Department of Defense civilian employees.
This is the wrong step at the wrong time. We are making progress in Iraq and we should not deny our servicemembers the ability to continue their positive efforts by limiting their funding. Furthermore, why would you force the Department of Defense to furlough hundreds of thousands of civilian personnel who provide critical support to our warfighters in combat zones? This is an imprudent and dangerous step that will not only set a bad precedent, but could potentially affect our combat operations in theater.
Before Congress breaks for the Christmas recess, it is my sincere hope that Congress can work together to achieve a positive outcome for the betterment of our men and women in uniform as they fight for our nation overseas. During this time of year, with joyous celebrations occurring throughout our country and around the world, we all need to take time to remember to pray for those who fight for our freedom. Without question, our nation would not be the greatest in the world if it were not for the valor and courage displayed by those defending her. To deny them needed funding at such a critical time would only weaken our position and lessen the effects of our progress.
Richard Shelby represents Alabama in the U.S. Senate.