McKeon presses Armed Services members to support spending bill

The House is set to vote Wednesday — weather permitting — on the CR for the rest of the fiscal year, which also includes a full-year appropriations bill for the Pentagon, military construction and Veterans Affairs.

The current CR funding the federal government expires March 27.

Pentagon officials have said the Defense appropriations bill is vital, as it shifts an additional $10.4 billion into operations and maintenance accounts that fund training, repairs for ships and planes and civilian personnel.

But House Democratic leaders are lining up against the bill, citing concerns that it would lock in the $85 billion in spending cuts under sequestration. Democratic appropriators have also said they want full appropriations bills for more federal agencies.

McKeon made a pitch to his Democratic colleagues at Tuesday’s budget posture hearing, where U.S. Strategic Command commander Gen. Robert Kehler and U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Samuel Locklear testified.

When one Democratic lawmaker cited cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration and its workforce, McKeon circled back to the Defense budget.

“There’s no question this is going to spread pain across the whole federal government and its employees,” McKeon said of the cuts. “And I wish I had an ability to bring an appropriations bill for everything, but I don’t think we should let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or the better. And we do have an opportunity to vote on a defense appropriations bill.”

The Armed Services Committee’s vice chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), asked the generals how important the appropriations bill would be for their commands.

“It’s a big deal,” said Kehler. "It helps put certainty back into the process."

Correction: The story initially attributed a quote to Adm. Locklear that was said by Gen. Kehler.