May 6 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Army won’t be able to pay soldiers beyond June 15 unless Congress approves $108 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or authorizes a funds transfer, a Defense Department official said.
If the supplemental spending legislation isn’t enacted by then, the Pentagon will be forced to seek congressional authority to use money designated for other services to fund the Army payroll, department spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Pentagon budget officials briefed congressional staffers about the funding crunch earlier today, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressed the issue in a letter to lawmakers yesterday, Morrell said at a Pentagon briefing.
“He is taking members, leaders, at their word that they will have this bit of business done by Memorial Day,” Morrell said. At the same time, Gates asked his budget personnel “to begin contingency planning for the possibility that the Congress does not meet its goal of passing a budget bill the president can sign” by that date.
If the measure isn’t approved, Morrell said, the accounts that fund military operations and equipment maintenance would last a little longer than the Army payroll account, “but not much more.”