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Senators pledge to end war supplementals

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Senior U.S. senators from both parties are pledging to overhaul the way the U.S. military gets funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We've been funding this war dishonestly," wrote Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., in a Sunday op-ed piece.

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"We have to make some real positive steps to make sure the funding is not, as Chuck described, just supplementals," Sen. Jack Reed D-R.I., told CNN.

Reed, a West Point graduate and 10-year senator who is the senior-most Democrat on the Emerging Threats & Capabilities Sub-committee of the Senate Armed Services panel, will regain his seat on Appropriations next year.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who be chairman of the Appropriations Committee next year, has also been a critic of the administration's use of emergency supplementals.

In his piece in the Washington Post, Hagel said the use of such bills every year to pay for predictable costs associated with the war on terrorism, "minimizes responsible congressional oversight and allows the administration to duck tough questions in defending its policies."

He accused the GOP-controlled Congress of having "abdicated its oversight responsibility in the past four years."

Emergency supplemental bills, unlike regular appropriations, are not considered by the authorizing committees, and do not count towards the spending caps mandated by balanced budget legislation.

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An amendment promoted earlier this year by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., which passed the Senate overwhelmingly, called on the president to include the costs of the war on terror in the regular budget, and end the use of supplementals.

The next supplemental request, for the financial year 2007, will likely be delivered alongside the 2008 budget request next year, and lawmakers will have a chance to make good on their pledge.

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