Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Sen. Franken Introduces Measure to Pay for Future Wars

Today, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced legislation to require Congress to offset war costs with other tax or spending changes.

The bill, the Pay for War Resolution, would require Congress to pay for the costs of a future war over the subsequent ten-year window. With regards to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- which have cost over $1 trillion so far -- the bill would allow continued spending at the levels requested by the President, requiring offsets for additional spending. Beginning in 2017, all war costs would have to be paid for, absent a waiver voted on by three-fifth of the Senate (60 votes).

In a statement on the floor, Sen. Franken said,

"We have to ensure that Iraq and Afghanistan remain anomalies in American history. And that’s what my resolution seeks to do. It will ensure that future wars don’t make our deficit and debt problem worse. It will ensure that Congress and American citizens must face the financial sacrifice of going to war. And it will force us to decide whether a war is worth that sacrifice."

We applaud Sen. Franken for authoring thoughtful legislation on an important topic. In the past, CRFB has supported measures to pay for war (see here and here). Absent an immediate and unforeseen emergency, there is no reason war funding should be exempt from the basic principles of budgeting. CRFB President Maya MacGuineas called the bill “a sensible approach to ensuring that we budget for war.” We wish the Senator the best of luck in passing the bill.