Ryan touts spending deal for breaking ‘Obama rules’ for defense

Greg Nash

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is touting this week’s budget deal for breaking the rule that Democrats enforced under President Obama: Every dollar in increased defense spending had to be matched by a dollar increase for nondefense discretionary programs.

“Under the Obama rules, if you wanted to help the military, if you wanted a pay raise for the soldiers, if you wanted to buy new airplanes and new ships and more munitions, a dollar for that, you had to have a dollar domestic spending. We just broke that parity,” Ryan said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

“That’s the biggest victory we could have had — $25 billion year over year for our military, to begin to rebuild our military, without that kind of corresponding increase in domestic discretionary spending. That, to me, is very important,” he added.

{mosads}The rule calling for parity between defense and nondefense programs was born out of the pitched spending fight that nearly caused the government to default on its debt in 2011 and was reinforced by subsequent spending deals.

Democrats concede there is more emergency defense money than nondefense money in the bill but argue it’s included in a special fund for the Pentagon, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. The package does not fundamentally raise the spending cap on the military more than it does the cap on nondefense programs, they say.

Asked about the disparity between defense and nondefense, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Monday that it wasn’t significant because social programs saw a healthy increase.

“Overwhelmingly, we were very pleased with the outcome on issue after issue, both on the spending side and the legislative side, the poison-pill side,” he said.

While Schumer acknowledged there wasn’t a one-to-one match between defense and nondefense programs in the supplemental funding piece added to the broader omnibus spending package, he said there was parity in the core bill.

“If you look at the omnibus, the omnibus has big increases in itself,” he said.

A senior Senate Democratic aide noted that the core bill increases funding “$30 billion over the sequester levels, as called for in the 2015 budget agreement.”

The aide said both the defense and nondefense sides of the budget saw an increase of $15 billion.

“The additional OCO spending is not anything Democrats have opposed,” the source said.

In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in March, Democrats drew a distinction between OCO and regular spending.

“Any extra funding (beyond that for legitimate Overseas Contingency Operations and emergency expenses) should be divided equally between defense and non-defense priorities,” Democratic leaders wrote.

According to a summary of the spending package released Monday by Democrats on a House Appropriations Committee, the bill includes $551 billion in base defense spending and $518.5 billion in base non-defense spending.

In response to President Trump’s request in mid-March for $30 billion in supplemental funding for the military, this week’s budget deal provides $15 billion in additional defense budget authority.

It is paired with $1.2 billion in additional nondefense budget authority, according to the House Democratic summary.

Tags Charles Schumer Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Thad Cochran

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