The Senate is planning to add money to upcoming legislation to fund President Joe Biden’s military buildup in the Middle East and war in Yemen. Senator Susan Collins says the legation should be a priority as US Central Command is quickly depleting its funds. Senator Jack Reed believes Congress will need to pass multiple rounds of funding to allow Biden to wage war across the Middle East.
Following the Hamas attack on southern Israel, Biden ordered thousands of troops and multiple aircraft carrier strike groups into the region. Politico reports the Department of Defense informed Congress the deployment of additional troops and warships to the Middle East over the past four months has cost $1.6 billion. The Pentagon estimates the cost will be $2.2 billion over the course of the year.
The cost estimates do not include the price of the interceptors and munitions used in fighting the Houthis. Congress has not authorized Biden’s war in Yemen or the military surge in the Middle East. A growing number of American lawmakers, including within Biden’s party, have voiced opposition to the White House waging a war in Yemen without Congressional authorization.
A Pentagon official said at some point, the holes in the Department of Defense budget will have to be filled by Congress. An official told Politico, “It will be, I think, a hole that we would want to be filled. It is a bill that will be due and we will have to pay for it within a limited amount of resources.”
The Senate is now preparing to fund the conflicts in the Middle East, but there are no plans to authorize the war. Politico reports Congress is considering several options for authorizing the war spending. The outlet explains, “Lawmakers are aware of the unplanned cost and are weighing how to pay for it. Options include adding it to the annual spending bill, adding it to the $111 billion emergency supplemental for Ukraine and Israel, or funding it through a stand-alone supplemental for war costs.”
The White House has been pushing Congress to pass a $111 billion bill that provides funding for the wars in Ukraine and Israel, the military buildup in the Asia-Pacific, and border security. The legislation has been delayed for several months over debate on immigration policy.
Sen. Collins, a Republican member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is urging the body to take action. “[US Central Command] needs [the funding] sooner. They’re fast running out of funds,” she said.
delusional wishful thinking in the Pentagon press briefing room…
The US has attacked Yemen nearly every day over the past week and the Pentagon says the “fight between Israel and Hamas continues to remain contained in Gaza.” https://t.co/hTrbBj8kuh
— Kyle Anzalone (@KyleAnzalone_) January 21, 2024
Senator Jack Reed believes Congress will have to pass multiple rounds of funding to fight wars in the Middle East. He said, “I sense, given the unexpected cost, that there will have to be a separate supplemental. These aren’t routine costs. They’re because of our reaction to the Houthi disruption, to Iranian malign behavior, etc. And I think that’s probably where we would go for it.”
Senators Dan Sullivan, Mitch McConnell, and Mark Kelley have all called for adding money to the supplemental war legislation to replace the interceptors and munitions used to fight the Houthis in Yemen.