Fiscal Conservatives, Defense Hawks, White House Battle over Pentagon Funding Policy
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has passed both chambers of Congress, setting up a confrontation with the White House, which appears ready to follow through on its veto threat after acquiescing in prior years.
Amidst the disagreement over a policy provision in the NDAA that would provide extra Pentagon funding via non-budgeted wartime accounts – the issue drawing the veto threat – is another disagreement among lawmakers themselves about spending for the Pentagon.
Fiscal conservatives and defense hawks in the House Republican caucus are at a point of disagreement about overall Pentagon spending.
Reflecting the divide, a group of over 100 Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces and whose district includes Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, sent a letter to House leadership saying they would refuse to vote on any spending measure that provided less than $561 billion for the Defense Department base budget. The administration requested that level of funding.
Turner and the signatories of the letter wrote that leadership should not promote a continuing resolution that funds the Pentagon at 2015 levels, writing that it “would bring about devastating consequences to our national security and would amount to an abdication of our principal duty to 'provide for the common defense' of the nation.”
The rift between House Republicans over defense and fiscal priorities unsettles a previous agreement in which the wartime accounts were to be bolstered to provide additional funding the Pentagon. Part of the genesis of the letter led by Rep. Turner are concerns that as Congress works towards a CR or omnibus, that sequestration would be extended rather than repealed, thus leaving the Pentagon shortchanged.
The situation on the NDAA and sequestration continue to develop, and will influence congressional decision-making on major decisions lying ahead for Congress prior to the conclusion of the year.
Posted in From the Hill