Defense secretary urges lawmakers to undo spending ceilings

Defense secretary urges lawmakers to undo spending ceilings
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned lawmakers Wednesday that President Obama will veto legislation that keeps defense spending caps in palce.

Carter also said he supported Obama's goal of removing the sequester.

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"I support [the president’s] commitment to vetoing any bill that locks in sequestration. Because to do otherwise would be both unsafe and wasteful," Carter testified at the House Armed Services Committee. 

Carter's comments come one day after the House Budget Committee unveiled a 2016 budget proposal that would keep the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act in place. The ceilings would limit defense spending to $523 billion.

However, the Budget panel boosted wartime funding to $90 billion, and it is possible those funds could be used to give the Pentagon more flexibility. 

The administration has proposed a defense budget of $561 billion and war funds of $51 billion. Defense hawks on Capitol Hill are pushing for $577 billion for the Pentagon, a figure that not including wartime funding. 

A two-year budget deal that ends in September gave the Pentagon some relief from the budget ceilings, which are known as sequestration. 

"Under sequestration, which is set to return in 197 days, our nation would be less secure," Carter said. 

"We cannot meet sequester with further half-measures. As Secretary of Defense, I will not send our troops into a fight with outdated equipment, inadequate readiness, or ineffective doctrine," he said. 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who also testified, said under sequestration, the military would be "20 percent smaller and our forward presence will be reduced by a third." 

"We will have less influence," Dempsey said.