McCain to seek more defense funding on Senate floor

McCain to seek more defense funding on Senate floor
© Francis Rivera

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Memo: Summit fallout hits White House Graham: Biggest problem is Trump ‘believes meddling equals collusion’ Obama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena MORE (R-Ariz.) will try to add at least $17 billion to an annual defense policy bill when it comes to the Senate floor next week.

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McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, revealed details Thursday evening of a planned amendment he’s previously teased for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during a speech at the Brookings Institution.

“When the legislation comes to the floor next week, I will offer an amendment to increase defense spending above the current spending caps, reverse short-sighted cuts to modernization, restore military readiness and give our service members the support they need and deserve,” said McCain, who later added that he may seek $18 billion, not $17 billion. “I do not know whether or not this amendment will succeed, but the Senate must have this debate, and senators must choose a side.”

The version of the NDAA passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee last week adheres to the Obama administration’s 2017 budget request and the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act.

The bill would authorize $602 billion for defense spending, broken down into $543 billion for the base budget and $59 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

The funding breakdown was a major break with the House’s version of the NDAA, setting up the potential for a fight when the two sides meet in conference on the bill.

The House version, passed by the full House late Wednesday, would authorize $610 billion. That would be divided $551 billion for the base and $59 billion for OCO funding.

But $23 billion of the OCO fund would be used for base requirements, which is $18 billion more than the administration requested. The rest of the war fund would only be authorized through April 2017.

“My friends in the House and I share the same goal of restoring these arbitrary cuts to military capability and capacity,” McCain said. “The House has adopted one approach. The Senate has adopted a different path to reach the same objective.”

McCain offered few other details of his amendment, other than to say part of it would stop troop cuts to the Army.

The size of the Army was another area where the Senate bill differed from the House. The Senate version of the bill would authorize end strength consistent with the administration’s request of 460,000 troops. The House version would authorize 480,000.