Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday offered support for a presidential veto of any congressional budget plans that leave sequestration caps in place — even if the Defense Department gets everything it’s asking for.
The statement, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, drew immediate criticism from Republicans, several of whom have pushed for ways to boost military spending in fiscal 2016 while leaving the budget caps in place for non-defense spending.
Carter argued that exempting only defense spending is “no way to run the government” and argued that cuts to State Department and Homeland Security programs would have ripple effects on military operations and national security.
“We need the end of sequestration across the board,” he said. “What we need for defense … is stability.”
He also panned plans released by the House Budget Committee a day earlier that would boost increase spending in fiscal 2016 by adding to the military’s overseas contingency operations accounts.
For fiscal 2016, the White House has asked for a $561 billion base defense budget — which would be $38 billion over the mandatory sequestration caps — and a $51 billion overseas contingency operations fund.
The House budget plan tops that combined total by about $6 billion, but puts $94 billion in the temporary war fund, a move critics have panned as an accounting gimmick.
Carter said simply bumping up the total dollars for defense without eliminating sequestration caps for years to come doesn’t solve his department’s budget headaches.