One pricey consequence of the nation’s more than 20 year-long war against terrorism has been the rapid growth of ill-defined, catch-all programs.

While items like the “Overseas Contingency Operations” fund may have been established to handle unforeseen costs of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere, it, and other funds, quickly became dumping grounds for a host of spending totally unrelated to the war on terror.

And Utah Sen. Mike Lee hopes to make it stop, with his Restraining Emergency War Spending Act:

Bill Specifics

    • Establishes a statutory definition for Emergency War Funding:

o Includes replacement of ground equipment, equipment modifications, munitions, replacement of aircraft, military construction for short-term temporary facilities, direct war operations, and fuel.

o Requires a defined geographic limit.

o Does not include R&D costs or train, equip, and sustainment of foreign forces.

    • Submit to Congress in the President’s Budget:

o A plan for transferring activities no longer meeting the revised definition to the base budget


o A projection of emergency war costs for the next five fiscal years.

    • Establishes a surgical budget point of order against legislation that includes emergency war funding that does not meet the statutory definition.

Lee said the bill would end the “trillion-dollar defense slush funds” and require Congress to “better perform its constitutional roles of overseeing our nation’s defense budget and wars.”

It’s long overdue. The question is whether the powerful bipartisan tradition of lavishing spending on the Pentagon – even when the Pentagon doesn’t need, want, or ask for it, can be overcome.