Rubio's push for higher defense spending falls short

Senators blocked an amendment Thursday that would have increased defense spending above congressionally mandated budget caps. 

The amendment, offered by Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonProtecting American innovation Russian spy poisoning brings world powers closer to day of reckoning GOP senators see Tillerson ouster as the new normal MORE (R-Ark.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio: McCabe 'should've been allowed to finish through the weekend' For Tillerson, bucking Trump became a job-killer At least six dead after pedestrian bridge collapses on cars in Florida MORE (R-Fla.) divided Senate Republicans, including potential 2016 presidential candidates. Rubio and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz says Cambridge Analytica assured him its practices were legal Dem battling Cruz in Texas: ‘I can understand how people think this is crazy’ Overnight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian MORE (R-Texas), who launched his presidential bid earlier this week, supported the amendment, while Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump formally sends Pompeo nomination to Senate Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE (R-Ky.) voted against it. 
The amendment would have swapped out the fiscal 2016 defense budget numbers with projected numbers included in former Defense Secretary Robert Gates's fiscal 2012 defense budget. 
"This is a pretty simple amendment, it funds defense fully," Rubio said ahead of the vote. "It puts us at the Gates budget number ... that fully funds the needs of our military." 
Sanders slammed the Republicans' amendment, calling it "remarkable." 
"This is truly a remarkable amendment because it runs directly in opposition to what the Republicans have been talking about," Sanders said, referring to Republicans' pledge to balance the budget and shrink the deficit. "Enough is enough, if you want to go to war, start paying for it." 
The Pentagon's 2012 budget projected the department would need $661 billion in fiscal 2016, according to a summary of the budget released by the department.  
R epublicans on the Senate Budget Committee bolstered the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by $38 billion last week. Rubio said Tuesday 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 from the Senate floor, but he added that senators need "a serious debate" on defense spending.