McCain: Obama's defense budget based on 'degree of unreality'

McCain: Obama's defense budget based on 'degree of unreality'
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The Obama administration's 2017 defense budget request of $582.7 billion was panned by the Armed Services Committee chairmen, who are in charge authorizing defense funding.  

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainCongress needs to support the COINS Act GOP’s message on ObamaCare is us versus them Frustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response MORE (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, dismissed the request, calling it based on "a degree of unreality."

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"It's not enough funding, and they're cutting necessary programs, and they still don't have a strategy," he said. "Other than that, it's fine."

McCain said he is particularly concerned about cuts to procurement, which is $6.8 billion less than what was enacted for 2016, and spending on readiness and training.

The $582.7 billion request includes $524 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and $59 billion for war funding, known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). 

Those levels were based on the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act negotiated last year, which set spending levels for 2015 and 2016. 

However, Republicans argue that the $59 billion amount was a floor, not a ceiling. 

In 2016, the Pentagon spent part of that money on base budget items. 

While the OCO amount is the same in 2017, more money is shifted towards the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) and for the U.S. military in Europe — which Republicans argue will squeeze funding for base items. 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says the Pentagon needs at least $15-$23 billion more to pay for everything. 

"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. 

When asked about his Republican colleagues' stance on OCO, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity 3 tips for President Trump before he outsources his duties to Mattis McCain threatens to block Trump's deputy Defense nominee MORE (R.I.) pointed to the fact that the war fund is increasing from the previous year.

"The request is for an increase in OCO, and I think that is commensurate with the increased activities overseas, which is the whole essence of OCO," said Reed, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We're expanding our activities against ISIL in different areas, and that could use additional resources."

McCain demurred on whether OCO should be increased, but said the amount of funding proposed will not be able to defend the nation from another attack, he added.

"I know that it's not enough funds to defend the nation, which has been the subject of attacks, and there will be more attacks," he said.