Negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House have produced a two-year budget deal that would raise the defense spending cap by a total of $40 billion over the next two years, as well as increase spending through DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account by $32 billion over that same time period.
The package, which would offset higher discretionary spending through long-term spending cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare, also would extend the nation’s debt ceiling through March 2017. That limit needs to be raised by Nov. 3 to avoid defaulting on the nation’s bills, according to the Treasury Department.
An outline of the budget agreement was presented to members late Monday, with aides cautioning nothing was final as leaders gauge the level of support from rank-and-file members, reported the Washington Post.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the agreement is not final. “Not everything has been agreed to, so that means nothing has been agreed to,” Earnest said.
The deal would raise the discretionary caps by $50 billion in fiscal 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017, with the increase split evenly between defense and non-defense programs, reported CQ. The $32 billion in extra funds allocated to the OCO account would be split evenly between FY 2016 and 2017. While the package includes offsets to pay for relaxing the spending caps, extra spending through the war account would not be offset.
The deal also would extend the Budget Control Act caps through 2025, reported the Post.
After leaders briefed the House GOP on the deal, many members said they were cautiously supportive, although conservatives appeared to be firmly opposed to the package. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would support the deal even though it provides $5 billion less for defense in FY 2016 than he wanted, reported CQ.
“I think that we could move forward with this,” McCain said. “It averts a shutdown. It puts these problems until two years from now. So, I think it’s the best deal we can get,” he said.
Even though the package increases the defense and non-defense spending caps by equal amounts, the extra spending added to the OCO account could be a sticking point, however, for President Obama.
If approved, the agreement on topline spending levels would allow appropriators to start work on individual appropriations bills that would be part of an FY 2016 omnibus package. The government is operating under a continuing resolution that runs out Dec. 11. An agreement also would help ensure that lawmakers would not have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown before the 2016 elections.