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Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Graham to roll out extension of Obama immigration program Trump and Cuba: A murky future MORE (R-Fla.) and Tom CottonTom CottonCotton says he trusts Trump on promise to focus on presidency Katie Pavlich: A tyrant, not a hero, is dead Overnight Tech: Issa declared winner in House race | Tech's nationwide impact | Amazon cracks down on fakes MORE (R-Ark.) introduced a budget amendment Tuesday evening to increase defense spending.
Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential contender, said the amendment would swap out the fiscal year 2016 defense budget numbers with the projected fiscal year 2016 numbers included in former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' fiscal year 2012 defense budget.
Rubio called the 2012 budget "the last defense budget ... that was put together solely on the assessment of the threats we face."
The Pentagon's 2012 budget projected the department would need $661 billion in fiscal year 2016, according to a summary of the budget released by the department. That includes a $611 base budget, and a $50 billion Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget.
"I believe defense spending is the most important obligation of the federal government," the Florida Republican said. "This is the worst possible time to be reducing our defense spending ... and we are setting ourselves up for danger."
Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee bolstered OCO by $38 billion. Rubio said that while he respects the committee's work, he believes senators need to debate defense spending.
"I respect the work they've done, and ultimately, that might be where we wind up," Rubio said, but he added that senators need "a serious debate" on defense spending.
Cotton suggested that the $611 billion base budget might not be enough, citing threats including a resurgent Russia and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"But that's not enough," Cotton. "As the national defense panel said itself, at $611 billion, that projection is not enough."