House Budget Panel OKs $613B for Defense

House Budget Panel OKs $613B for Defense

WASHINGTON — The US House Budget Committee approved a spending plan that would clear the way for $613 billion for national defense in 2016.

The panel’s 22-13 vote sends the GOP-crafted measure to the House floor. But first, it will land in the powerful Rules Committee, where it is expected to be amended to include even more in Pentagon spending.

Lawmakers explained the complicated “steps,” as House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas put it, to reporters. When the resolution lands in Rules, its $90 billion overseas contingency operations (OCO) account could end up closer to $100 billion.

What’s more, defense hawks want to keep a $20 billion Budget Committee-created “reserve fund” in the measure, which could be tapped for Defense Department spending in fiscal 2016.

The House’s defense funding level could hit $613 billion, $2 billion more than the White House requested.

The OCO funds and, reportedly, the new $20 billion would not be subject to the 2011 Budget Control Act’s spending caps. Hawks want to make sure it would not require offsets from elsewhere in the federal budget.

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