Two top members of the House Armed Services Committee say they will support the fiscal 2017 budget resolution unveiled Tuesday by the House Budget Committee as it provides an extra $18 billion in base defense spending beyond the Obama administration’s budget request.
The budget blueprint adheres to the higher spending levels agreed to in October’s two-year budget deal. That agreement caps base spending on national security in FY 2017 at $551 billion and includes $59 billion in DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.
In a departure from the administration’s request, though, the House framework would shift $23 billion from the OCO account to the base defense budget for a total of $574 billion in base defense spending in FY 2017. The Pentagon’s request only proposed shifting $5 billion to the base budget. The budget resolution also leaves open the opportunity for Congress to bolster the OCO account — which is not subject to the Budget Control Act caps — beyond $59 billion, reported CQ Roll Call.
Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of House Armed Services, and Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the panel’s Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, said they are satisfied by the GOP budget framework even though it relies on the next administration to request funding to make up the OCO shortfall resulting from the large shift in funds from that account to the base budget.
“If I’ve got two chances, a chance at an appropriations bill and chance for a new administration to reconcile this mismatch, I’m going to take it and take it through the [end of the] Obama administration,” Thornberry said Tuesday, reported Defense News. “That was my judgement.”
Turner, who led a push among GOP defense hawks to add $18 billion to the base defense spending budget for FY 2017, also said he supports the plan.
“After leading the fight for a fully funded defense, I am pleased with the Budget Committee’s announcement,” Turner said in a statement. “As we face continued terror threats, it is critically important that we sustain our military and meet contingency operations requirements so that we can provide our next president with viable strategic options,” he said.
Despite the support of the chamber’s defense hawks, the fate of the House’s budget resolution is uncertain. Opposition from fiscal conservatives could stop the House from adopting the resolution, which establishes spending targets but does not become law. The framework is scheduled to be marked up in committee today.