McCain endorses House plan to boost defense spending

McCain endorses House plan to boost defense spending
© Greg Nash

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair Implementation matters: Making certain the VA Mission Act will work for veterans Students protesting Shapiro chant ‘John McCain’s dead’ MORE (R-Ari.), an influential voice on national security matters, on Wednesday endorsed a House Republican plan to increase defense spending by tapping into an emergency war fund.

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McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, earlier in the week dismissed using the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund to increase defense spending as “a gimmick.”

He explained his change of mind by arguing the House path is preferable to the Senate Budget Committee’s proposal to create a defense reserve fund as a placeholder for a future debate over defense spending levels.

“I am with some reluctance endorsing the idea of the OCO,” he told reporters. “I don’t like OCOs. I think they should have gone away some time ago. But if that’s the only way to get the required level of defense spending, I would support what the House did.

“I will reluctantly endorse a proposal such as the House enacted,” he said.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) has allotted $523 billion to the Pentagon’s base budget, including more than $90 billion for its emergency war account.

The Senate budget goes in the other direction by creating a new budget point of order limiting the use of the overseas contingency fund.

McCain argued that OCO is preferable to creating a defense reserve fund, as Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has proposed, because it would provide no clear path for obtaining extra funds.

“It’s like giving you a bucket of water, only the bucket is empty. Tell me where you get the money, then I would certainly think that reserve fund is viable. Without saying where that money is coming from, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck,” he said. “Talk about an empty promise.”