Pentagon planners have built a strong coalition among defense lawmakers against keeping sequestration spending caps on the military next year. But their firepower doesn’t seem to stretch far past a small handful of Capitol Hill hearing rooms.
On Tuesday, as the military service secretaries and chiefs railed against the dangers of sequestration to anxious House Armed Services Committee lawmakers, Republicans from the House Budget Committee unveiled their fiscal 2016 spending plans — which keep the caps in place.
The juxtaposition showed that for all the dire warnings coming from defense officials and supporters, congressional leaders appear content to move ahead with reapplying the unpopular federal budget caps, which would spark spending trims that could stretch across every military base and unit.
The budget committee proposal would give $617 billion for the Defense Department’s “base budget,” but would also add tens of billions more in temporary overseas contingency funding to cover some shortfalls caused by the $523 billion sequestration spending cap.
Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., called that plan a “responsible” approach to ensuring national security without allowing out-of-control government spending.
But defense leaders have warned that any plan that keeps sequestration in place will have devastating effects on military missions and readiness, and have repeatedly implored Congress to find some way to undo the 2011 Budget Control Act that mandates the funding squeeze.