Defense secretary slams GOP budget

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter slammed a GOP budget plan that would keep federal budget caps in place but boost defense spending through a separate wartime funding account.  

"Current proposals to shoehorn [the Pentagon's] base budget funds into our contingency accounts would fail to solve the problem, while also undermining basic principles of accountability and responsible, long-term planning," Carter said Thursday. 

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"I also want to be clear that, as secretary of Defense, I cannot — and will not — be indifferent to cuts threatening Secretary [of State John] Kerry’s budget, your budget, here at State," he said. 

"Or to Secretary [Jack] Lew’s budget at Treasury. Or to Secretary [Jeh] Johnson’s budget at Homeland Security. I cannot be indifferent to the vital national security responsibilities across our government, just as I cannot be indifferent to my own at DOD," he said. 

The plan, which the House approved on Wednesday and is expected to pass the Senate early Friday, would keep the defense budget at $523 billion but raise wartime spending levels to more than $90 billion. 

The president's plan would be roughly equal that amount, but would lift the budget caps and spend $561 on the defense budget, with $51 billion in wartime spending. That would give the Pentagon more flexibility to invest in multi-year programs, while war funding varies from year to year. 

Carter also reiterated President Obama's veto threat on any budget that keeps the caps in place. 

"That is why President Obama has said he will not accept a budget that locks in sequester going forward ... or one that severs the vital links between all the pieces of our national security, from State to [USAID] to Homeland Security to DOD," he said. 

"President Obama, Secretary Kerry and I will not waver as we resist proposals that undermine critical investments in all the fundamentals of our national security and national power," he added. 

Carter urged lawmakers to make compromises on tax and spending reform in order to lift the caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act. 

"This is a time for statesmanship — a time for members of both parties to acknowledge the extraordinary turbulence in today’s world, and to come together behind a long-term budget that stands behind our strength and security as a nation," he said.