Senators from both parties who want to do away with a ceiling on Pentagon spending are coalescing around building to a strong vote in the Senate that might put pressure on the House to take action.
Pro-defense lawmakers think there’s a much better chance of getting the Senate to increase defense spending.
A flurry of deal-making in the last few weeks has bolstered hopes, and reminded senators of their ability to reach across the aisle. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also is viewed as willing to defer to his chairmen — if they have a deal.
In stark contrast, raising spending caps is not seen as a priority for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who also must watch out for a right flank that is passionate about cutting spending.
“He says, ‘You got to cut spending, you got to cut spending.’ He’s not only not enthusiastic, he’s fundamentally opposed. That’s a problem,” one Republican senator said of Boehner.
Boehner said Friday that he does not want to exceed the spending ceilings set by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), which implemented automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
The Pentagon and its allies in Congress are desperate to remove those ceilings. The White House is also willing to lift them, provided ceilings are also raised or eliminated on domestic spending.