GOP, Obama battle over war budget numbers

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The Pentagon on Tuesday will release a $582.7 billion budget request, which will include a contentious figure of $58.8 billion for war funding, otherwise known as overseas contingency operations. 

The $58.8 billion figure is $200 million more than the amount enacted for 2016. The extra $200 million is targeted toward counterterrorism in Africa. 

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While the overall spending is about the same, the Pentagon would shift more of the funding toward fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and helping European allies against Russia.

The budget request would quadruple spending on the European Reassurance Initiative from $800 million to $3.4 billion. 

It would also boost spending on the ISIS fight from $5 billion to $7.5 billion in 2017. 

And it would still spend $41.7 billion on operations in Afghanistan — only a $1.2 billion reduction from 2016, despite White House plans to reduce forces in that country from 9,800 troops to 5,500. 

House Republicans argue the numbers don't add up. They say the budget request would necessitate at least $15–$23 billion more than what the White House is asking for.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), whose committee is responsible for authorizing yearly defense spending, said Congress would consider the proposals but seek to authorize only what's needed. 

"As with all Administration budget requests, Congress will consider the individual proposals, but make its own independent judgment on what is needed to defend the country," he said. 

Thornberry and Republicans members of the committee maintain that the $59 billion worked out in the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act is a floor, not a ceiling. 

"I am disappointed that this request does not adhere to the budget agreement made just last fall. Last year, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which establishes a minimum level of funding for our military," he said. 

"I hoped such an agreement would provide some budget stability and begin to rebuild our military. Unfortunately, this administration continues to play budgetary games with our country’s security and diminishes what credibility it had left."

White House budget document released Tuesday purport that over the next decade, overseas contingency operations would be slashed dramatically, beginning with a $37 billion cut in 2018. The cut would rise to $88 billion in 2026, for a total of $636 billion in reductions over the next 10 years.