OCO Funding Offers Aid to Syrian Rebels

Washington Report

(July 1, 2014) The White House requested $58.6 billion for overseas contingency operations last week, a drop of nearly $20 billion from last year's request as fighting in Afghanistan continues to wind down. The request arrived nearly five months after the president's defense budget and is the smallest OCO funding in nearly 10 years.

OCO funds support the war in Afghanistan, plus efforts to fight terrorism. The funding offers $500 million to support moderate opposition in Syria and $1.5 billion to aid nations surrounding Syria that have been inundated by refugees fleeing the civil war.

"In light of events in Iraq and Syria, this is appropriate spending," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The funding request also includes $1 billion for the president's proposed European Reassurance Initiative.

"These funds will help us improve the security of our NATO allies and partner states by increasing exercises, improving European infrastructure and allowing us to enhance the prepositioning of U.S. equipment in Europe," a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.

Republicans were unhappy with the release of the funding Thursday, several months late and just before the congressional recess for the Fourth of July holiday. They vowed to examine it closely.

"Congress is not a rubber stamp," said Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.