FINAL OCO Sign-On Letter to Congress, May 2014

We are writing you today as organizations with a wide variety of priorities to express our shared disappointment at the continued use of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account as a way to circumvent the very spending limitations Congress itself imposed on Pentagon spending.

Since 2002, the Pentagon has separated funding relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and counterterrorism activities from other military programs not associated with U.S. contingency operations. With the United States drawing down its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time to end use of the OCO account.

According to the Pentagon, from FY 2013 to FY 2014, approximately 39 percent fewer personnel will be deployed to Afghanistan (with none in Iraq). Yet, in the FY 2014 omnibus spending bill, Defense Subcommittee funding in the OCO account will actually increase from FY 2013 to FY 2014. This only highlights the reality that the OCO is being used as a kind of slush fund to get around Congressionally approved caps on Department of Defense spending. We believe that the sum of the OCO account should be folded into Defense appropriations, with the total reduced to reflect post-war needs. That will mean that the current Defense cap will have to be increased. We believe that is a more realistic, transparent approach, just as we believe that the current cap for domestic expenditures is too low to respond to the nation’s needs.

Just last year, the House of Representatives voted to cut the OCO account—reversing House appropriators’ decision to include billions of dollars above the Pentagon’s request in the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014. Similarly, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its Fiscal Year 2014 defense appropriations bill with significantly less appropriated in the OCO account than the omnibus ultimately provided.

Although the Ryan-Murray deal kept parity between defense and non-defense spending caps, one of the ways that Congress met the new cap was by shifting spending from the Pentagon’s base accounts into the OCO account. Domestic spending priorities cannot make such an end-run around the new spending caps Congress implemented just last month.

Since 2010, regular (non-OCO) Pentagon spending will decline less than the 17.8 percent cut to domestic and international appropriations. But the presence of non-war spending in the OCO account means that the Pentagon has had to cut less than it appears. On the other hand, preschool programs for young children, scientific research, affordable housing and other community rebuilding, home energy assistance, aid for college students, job training, and nutrition programs for seniors are just some of the programs that are not keeping pace with need.

Continuing to budget through the OCO account not only ignores Congress’ prior actions to rein in the Pentagon budget but also the desire of the American public to see our war spending come down as our troops come home. It is time to shift the nation’s budget priorities to encourage investment in jobs, education and infrastructure here at home.

As you begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2015, you have an opportunity to end the use of budget gimmicks and realize genuine savings at the Pentagon. We urge you to end the use of the OCO, and instead methodically address wasteful, ineffective, or low-priority expenditures.


National Organizations

Alliance for a Just Society
American Friends Service Committee
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor (A.D.R.O.P.)
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for International Policy
Center for Popular Democracy
Coalition on Human Needs
Community Action Partnership
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Council for a Livable World
Courage Campaign
CREDO Action
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Foreign Policy in Focus
Franciscan Action Network
Friends of the Earth
Global Exchange
Global Justice Institute
God’s Will In Action
Gray Panthers
Historians Against War
Institute for Peace and Justice
Just Foreign Policy
Labor Fightback Network
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
National Employment Law Project
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National Priorities Project
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
On Earth Peace
our developing world
Peace Action
Peace Action West
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Progressive Democrats of America
Promise the Children
Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator
Rebuild The Dream
Salaam Legal Network & Citizen’s Council for Human Rights
Share The Wealth Productions
Sisters of Charity Federation
Sisters of the Most Precious Blood
Sisters of the Presentation
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice
The Center on Conscience & War
The Young Democrats of America
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
USAction Education Fund
Veterans For Peace
Win Without War
Women Legislators’ Lobby
Women’s Action for New Directions
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Regional, State and Local Organizations

A. Thompson & Co.
Advocacy for Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
American Friends Service Committee Northeast Regional Office
Arlington United for Justice with Peace
Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
Center for Latino Progress – CPRF
Chicago Area Peace Action
Citizen Action of New York
Citizen Action of Wisconsin
Cleveland Nonviolence Network
Cleveland Peace Action
Coalition for Peace Action
Coalition of Peace Action of Monroe Township
Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
Community Action Development Commission (CADCOM)
Community Action Marin
Community of St. Francis
Dorchester People for Peace
East Bay Citizens for Peace
Education Equals Making Community Connections
Fairmont, MN Peace Group
Family Therapy Institute of Suffolk
Florida Consumer Action Network
Fund Our Communities
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace
Georgia Rural Urban Summit
Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND)
Granite State Priorities
Greensboro Housing Coalition
Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart
Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb
Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center (IJPC)
Iowa Citizen Action Network
Justice Committee of the albany Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
Keystone Progress
Kickapoo Peace Circle
Lawrence Pax Christi
Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO Peace Center)
Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives
Loretto Committee for Peace
Maine People’s Alliance
Mansfield Housing Authority
Maryland United for Peace and Justice
MASS Senior Action Council, North Shore Chapter
Massachusetts Peace Action
Michigan Citizen Action
Minnesota Arms Spending Alternative Project
Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition
National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter
Neighbors for Peace & Justice
New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Peace Action
New Jersey Tenants Organization
Newman United Methodist Women
NH Housing Finance Authority NHHFA
NJ State Industrial Union Council
NY State Council of Churches
Oakland County Welfare Rights
Occupy Ft Lauderdale Labor Outreach
Oregon Action
Oregon WAND
Patriots for Change
Pax Christi Northwest Minnesota
Peace Action Montgomery County
Peace Action New York State
Peace Action of Michigan
Peace Committee First Unitarian Denver
Peace Economy Project
Peace Seekers of East Shore UU Church
Peaceworks Kansas City
Pennsylvania Coalition for Peace Action
PeterCares House
Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City
Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm’s CEO
Progressive Maryland
Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition
Public Justice Center
Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone
Schenectady Inner City Ministry
Sisters of I.H.M.
Sisters of Mercy WMW Cedar Rapids, IA
Sisters of Social Service
Somerville Homeless Coalition
SS Peter & Paul Church
Teens, Training and Taxes
Tennessee Citizen Action
United Action for Idaho
Upper Hudson Peace Action
Upper Hudson Peace Action
Veterans For Peace, #92
Veterans For Peace, local chapter 39 NEOH
Virginia Organizing
Virginia United Methodist Women
WAND of Northern Indiana
War vs Human Needs South Florida
Washington Community Action Network
Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
wilson dist co