WASHINGTON — The US Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a bill that authorizes nearly $590 billion in base defense and war spending, but without the support of the panel’s top Democrat.
The committee approved a nearly $500 billion base Defense Department budget in 2016 and $89 billion for the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account. The measure, approved with the support of all but four SASC Democrats, also would keep alive the A-10 attack aircraft fleet while adding F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35B Lightning II fighter jets.
Republicans and Democrats support those moves, but Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island voted against sending the bill to the Senate floor because he wanted to make what he dubbed “a very important point.”
Reed told reporters his no vote was an attempt to trigger a bipartisan effort to craft a measure that would raise both defense and domestic spending caps.
Republican leaders in both chambers this year inflated the war fund by nearly $40 billion to appease defense hawks, who threatened to sink a GOP budget resolution without more Pentagon funding.
“On both sides of the aisle, the first thing out of everyone’s mouth is,” Reed said, “we should get rid of the sequester.”