Left-Right Alliance to Continue OCO Fight

Left-Right Alliance to Continue OCO Fight

WASHINGTON — An alliance of right- and left-leaning House members is expected to continue its attacks on the Pentagon’s war account when the chamber takes up the annual defense policy bill next week.

Republican deficit hawks and liberal Democrats recently joined forces, and its leaders are setting their sights on the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.

Both sides are upset that House and Senate Republican leaders added around $40 billion to the fund in the GOP-crafted 2016 budget resolution to appease defense hawks.

The leaders of the right-left alliance, Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., say the extra OCO dollars won’t be used for actual war-related items.

Last week, the alliance forced House GOP leaders to abruptly pull a Veterans Affairs and Military Construction appropriations bill off the floor. And its leaders have indicated to reporters they intend to stick together.

Asked whether the duo plans to push amendments on the chamber floor next week as part of work on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Armed Services Committee approved with the higher OCO amount, a House aide replied: “The effort is expected to continue.”

“There is clearly bipartisan opposition to using the overseas contingency operations budget as a slush fund for non-war related projects,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “I will continue to work with Congressman Mulvaney and my other colleagues to fight against this abuse of the budget process.”

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