An internal memo circulated within the Pentagon in May reveals the amount of effort DOD put into countering the House plan to evade the statutory budget caps by using $18 billion from the overseas contingency operations account (OCO) for base budget items not requested by the Obama administration.
“We should attack” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) plan “and be prepared to play hardball opposing it,” says the May 13 memo prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work, reports Politico.
The House versions of the fiscal 2017 defense spending and authorization bills both rely on the OCO account and would force the next administration to request supplemental funding before overseas operations funds run out at the end of next April. The Obama administration opposes boosting DOD’s base budget without a corresponding increase in domestic spending.
The memo is perhaps most striking for exposing the tactics of an agency that seek to avoid the perception of partisanship. It describes President Obama’s veto threat to the two measures as “the principal weapon at our disposal.” The memo also says Carter might have to take an “all in” approach to opposing the House Republicans’ plan.
Ryan denounced the memo as “shameless,” reported Politico.
“For this administration, it’s always politics first, even at the Pentagon,” Ryan said in a statement. “This memo details with relish a plan to use a presidential veto of a defense bill as a ‘weapon.’ It’s shameless, and it threatens more than five decades of bipartisan cooperation to enact a national defense bill for our troops. The men and women who defend our country deserve better.”