Congress OKs $20 mil for victory parties but not for Body Armor

WASHINGTON (UCS News) — The military’s top generals have warned Iraq is on the edge of all out civil war and that U.S. troops must remain in large numbers until at least next spring. But the Republican Congress has diverted $20 million dollars meant for body Armor into planning a national Iraq victory day party.

Republican lawmakers included language in this year’s defense spending bill, approved last year, allowing them to spend the money. The money for “commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan was originally allocated to buy body armor and “Up” armor for Humvees, but went unspent despite an increase in violence in both countries that forced the Pentagon to extend tours of duty for thousands of troops.

Republicans have yet to claim responsibility for the provision. Democrats say it was likely added by the Senate’s majority Republicans, and less than five weeks from congressional elections are pointing to it as another example of where the GOP has gone astray handling the war in Iraq.

“If the Bush administration is planning victory celebrations, American troops deserve body armor not party hats and cupcakes,” said Rebecca Kirszner, spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

The Pentagon could spend up to $20 million of its $532 billion budget in 2007 for the commemoration. According to Pentagon insiders, “The administration has a team of party planners working day and night to prepare for the event.” Others sources report The Pentagon diverted 50% of it post war planning staff to prepare for the Party in the weeks leading up to the ground assault.