WASHINGTON — The number two man at the Pentagon believes a budget deal will be reached to avoid sequestration levels of funding, good news to those in the defense industry who are nervously tracking the budget debate in Washington.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work also said that Russia’s continued aggression in Europe will play a major part in shaping the next budget put forth from the Pentagon.
Work said Monday that three months ago he would have thought sequestration was “better than a 50-50 proposition,” but that today he is “pretty certain we won’t get to sequestration-level funding.”
The difference between then and now, he told an audience at the Rand Corp., comes from the actions of Congress in the face of threats by President Barack Obama to veto congressional spending bills.
“Because of the President’s strong veto threat, and because we’ve now demonstrated veto-sustaining votes in the house and senate,” things have changed, Work said. “The whole point of this is to try and encourage both sides of the aisle and both chambers of congress to get together and do another Ryan-Murray-type bipartisan budget agreement. That is the purpose of our strategy. And at least right now, we have set up the conditions for that to occur.”
White House officials have promised a veto on the Senate’s defense authorization measure — and a host of other appropriations bills — over moves by Hill Republicans to use temporary war funds to get around mandatory spending caps on defense funding next year.