Defense hawks scored a win last week by securing more cash for the Pentagon in the Senate budget — but that victory could prove short-lived.
Republicans on the Budget Committee voted last week to boost the Pentagon’s budget by $38 billion at the urging of hawks like Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. The addition was essential for getting Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) to back the overall fiscal blueprint.
But a procedural requirement tucked away in Budget Chairman Mike Enzi’s (R-Wyo.) budget resolution will make it very hard for the Pentagon to ever get the extra money in the appropriations process.
Republican aides said Monday that a budget “point of order” will apply to the additional money — added to the Overseas Contingency Operations — when senators eventually take up a defense appropriations bill.
That point of order requires at least 60 votes to approve any OCO money in a spending bill beyond what Senate Republicans had included in Enzi’s original budget blueprint, which was $58 billion. So the extra $38 billion approved in committee would almost surely have to withstand the point of order.
Getting those 60 votes on the floor to allow those higher levels won’t be an easy task.