Upping the ante in the Iraq funding stalemate with Congress, the White House announced furloughs for 100,000 civilians employees just in time for Christmas. From the Swamp;

Merry Christmas from Washington: With Congress balking at continued war funding, the White House says the Defense Department will issue furlough notices to about 100,000 civilian workers at military bases in mid-December.

The threat of notices is the White House’s way of reminding Congress that it must authorize continued funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House has voted to tie $50 billion in continued funding to a timeline for troop withdrawals, but that measure has been shelved in the Senate. The White House is calling on Congress to approve a spending bill before year’s end. If funding isn’t provided, the Defense Department says, the stall will have a “profoundly’’ burdensome impact on its operations.

“Before you furlough anyone, you have to provide notice,’’ White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said this morning. “If Congress provides the full funding, then the Department of Defense will not have to take the step’’ of furlough notices. They will have to be issued in mid-December, she said.

Perino also acknowledges that this was a warning shot across the bow of Congress – “that’s exactly what that was.’’

“It is not us who is making any civilians suffer,’’ she said. “We are calling on Congress.’’

This blatant attempt to use Christmas furloughs as leverage in the funding feud with Congress is despicable. Hopefully some second-opinion accounting will reveal how cruel this move truly is, after all, according to the Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Committee John Murtha (emphasis mine in this article concerning Gen. Mieg from the Pentagon’s counter-IED organization);

Meigs also said that the standoff between the Congress and President Bush over the White House’s request for war funding is going to cripple his organization’s ability to pay for new counter-IED projects, if it continues into next year.

But Democrats say this isn’t necessarily true. Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House Defense appropriations subcommittee, said Congress included $120 million for the task force in the military’s 2008 annual budget and the military can borrow against the rest of the $471 billion that was approved. So far, the Pentagon has not asked to tranfer any money, he said.

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