With the prospect of a significant boost in defense spending above the statutory budget caps under the bipartisan budget package unveiled Monday, GOP advocates for national security appear poised to support the deal.
On Tuesday, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he would back the agreement because it would provide predictable funding for national defense at a time of great uncertainty.
“This agreement does not repair the damage that has been inflicted on our troops by several years of budget cuts. It does come close to matching the amount allocated for defense in the congressional budget, and it locks in a minimum defense budget for next year as well,” Thornberry said in a written statement.
The agreement would boost the discretionary spending caps by $50 billion in fiscal 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017, with the increase split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. The FY 2016 defense cap would jump from $523.1 billion to $548.1 billion under the plan, reported CQ. The FY 2017 defense cap would rise from $536.1 billion to $551.1 billion.
The deal also would provide $73.5 billion for the overseas contingency operations account in FY 2016 and FY 2017, with most of the funds expected to be allocated to DOD. In FY 2016, that represents a $16 billion increase over the Obama administration’s $58 billion request. The increase would be equally divided between the Pentagon and non-defense spending, according to the story.
Taken together, the changes would provide all but $5 billion of the $38 billion increase above the defense cap sought by DOD in its $561 billion budget request for FY 2016.
John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said he would support the deal. On Tuesday, McCain told reporters that he has spoken to a number of other defense hawks on the committee about how the plan would affect Pentagon spending.
“They know we can probably adjust to that,” he said of getting $33 billion out of the $38 billion increase Republicans recommended for defense. “They don’t want to, but it’s better than what we were facing.”