Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), the author of a letter from House Republicans insisting on funding the Pentagon above the Budget Control Act limit for fiscal 2016, has offered a partial solution for the initial sticking point holding up bipartisan budget negotiations — agreeing on offsets to compensate for raising the spending caps.
Turner, whose letter was signed by 101 fellow Republicans, said he would accept using DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to hold the added funds, roughly $38 billion. His willingness to rely on the OCO account, which is not subject to the spending caps and would not be required to be offset, could allow budget negotiators to concentrate on finding offsets only for the non-defense spending increases that are proposed, reported CQ.
“We would be willing to do OCO … As long as we get the aggregate amounts of spending, I think we’re comfortable that we will have funded our national security,” Turner said. His letter to House leadership earlier this week vowed not to support any FY 2016 spending bill that allocates less than $561 billion for DOD’s base budget, the amount requested by the Obama administration.
So far, staff-level budget negotiations have had difficulty agreeing on ways to offset higher spending levels.
“They’re talking about offsets,” Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin (Ill.) said Tuesday. “There’s an easy list that doesn’t get them through the first year, let alone the second year. So they’re in the most preliminary phase at this point,” Durbin said.
Any move to rely on the OCO to allocate additional defense spending without offsets most likely would be opposed by deficit hawks, according to the story.