Feed and Forage Act

Feed and Forage Act

The Feed and Forage Act is legislation passed by the United States Congress that allows the Military Departments to incur obligations in excess of available appropriations for clothing, subsistence, fuel, quarters, transportation and medical supplies. This provision is codified in Section 3732 of the Revised Statutes (usc|41|11). It also authorizes incurring deficiencies for costs of additional members of the Armed Forces on active duty-beyond the number for which funds are currently provided in DoD appropriations (Title 10 U.S.C.).

This authority requires Congressional notification and does not permit actual expenditures until Congress provides an appropriation of the required funds.


The act has been amended over time and now reads in part::"No contract or purchase on behalf of the United States shall be made, unless the same is authorized by law or is under an appropriation adequate to its fulfillment, except in the Department of Defense .... for clothing, subsistence, forage, fuel, quarters, transportation, or medical and hospital supplies, which, however, shall not exceed the necessities of the current year..."cite web
title=41 USC Chapter 1 Section 11
accessdate=September 30|accessyear=2007
publisher=Cornell University U.S. Code Collection

It has been invoked on a number of occasions to deal with emergencies.

* It was cited on several occasions to support the Vietnam War.
* In 1990, $1.6 billion was obligated under the act during Operation Desert Shield.
* In 1994, the act was invoked to support of Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti.
* In 1996, the act was invoked after the Khobar Towers bombing although ultimately no funds were obligated under it.
* In 2001, act was invoked immediately after the September 11 terrorist attackscite web
accessdate=September 30|accessyear=2007
publisher=United States Department of Defense
] . Notably, Congress acted swiftly enough that an appropriations bill was enacted prior to DOD obligating any funding under the act.


There is a controversy over whether, and the extent to which, the Act lets a President fund military operations for which Congress has not appropriated funds.

In November 2006, member of Congress and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich wrote that the President could cite the Act to continue the Iraq War even if Congress withheld funds.cite web
author=Dennis Kucinich
title=There Is Only One Way To End The Iraq War|accessdate=September 30|accessyear=2007
publisher=Huffington Post

In May 2007, the conservative National Journal published an article echoing this argument.cite web
title=The Truth About The Iraq Supplemental
author=Stan Collender
accessdate=September 30|accessyear=2007
publisher=National Journal

In response, OmbWatch.org published "Exploring the Scope of the Feed and Forage Act of 1861"cite web
title=Exploring the Scope of the Feed and Forage Act of 1861
author=Stan Collender
accessdate=September 30|accessyear=2007
] suggesting a more limited interpretation:"... interpreting the Feed and Forage Act broadly probably gives great flexibility to Department of Defense officials to obtain anything they deem necessary, so long as it is for a short-term need that occurred in anemergency, could not be feasibly obtained through normal procedures, and was used in the fiscal year in whichit was obtained. This interpretation would give Congress and the president much more, if not unlimited, time tonegotiate a compromise..."

Others [http://www.talkleft.com/story/2007/5/27/115024/977] have argued that the Act cannot allow the President to continue military operations where Congress has used its Power of the purse to end them. It is argued that the intent of the Framers was that "the whole power of raising armies was lodged in the LEGISLATURE, not in the EXECUTIVE"cite web
title=Federalist No. 24
author=Alexander Hamilton
accessdate=September 30|accessyear=2007
publisher=Yale Law School
] The Department of Defense's Financial Management Regulations notes that : "The Department shall limit its use of the authority in 41 U.S.C 11 to emergency circumstances."

Name Confusion

Many sources refer to a "Food and Forage Act" [http://www.google.com/search?q=Food+And+Forage+Act&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS177US231 ] but the name used by the U.S. Government is "Feed and Forage Act".


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