Senators Lukewarm on House GOP Budget

Senators Lukewarm on House GOP Budget

WASHINGTON — Senators are giving a lukewarm assessment to a House Republican plan to inflate the Pentagon’s annual budget by swelling the war-funding account.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., on Tuesday rolled out the Republican’s 2016 federal budget resolution. Among myriad other proposals is one that would, if it passes the full House and Senate, give defense authorizers and appropriators $39 billion above the Pentagon’s $561 billion request when they craft their annual Pentagon bills.

The Obama administration requested $561 billion for national defense, $38 billion above spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The administration also is seeking $50.9 billion for the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account. That would be a total of $611.9 billion.

Price’s budget plan would take the OCO account all the way to $90 billion, while funding national defense at the budget caps. For DoD within the national defense pot of money, the caps would mean the congressional defense panels would have $499 billion to work with for fiscal 2016 — and the additional $39 billion in war funding to spread out as they see fit.

The plan was met almost immediately with furrowed brows and shaking heads in the Senate, with even some defense hawks scoffing at the budgetary tactic.

“It’s not accurate accounting. I would rather just see us just face reality that we have to raise the spending caps,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., told CongressWatch. “It’s clearly a gimmick.”

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