GOP urges $50B more in defense spending

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Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee are urging the head of the chamber’s Budget panel to boost defense spending by over $50 billion.

Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), along with 30 of the panel’s 36 GOP members, on Friday sent a “views and estimates” letter to Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) asking for a “restoration to the pre-sequestration [Budget Control Act] caps of $577 billion for national defense and $50.9 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations account.”

{mosads}“If this is not feasible in the first year, the committee recommends, at a minimum, last year’s House-passed budget resolution level of $566 billion for national defense in the base budget for [fiscal] ’16 with restoration to pre-sequestration-level funding in FY17 and out,” Thornberry adds.

The missive could signal a brewing fight between defense hawks and fiscal conservatives over how much money is set aside for the Defense Department and other national security spending in the next fiscal year. 

Earlier this month, President Obama unveiled a budget that asked for $561 in defense spending, about $38 billion over the caps set by the 2011 BCA agreement.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said the final budget level would be higher than the president’s request because “we’ll repeal sequestration.”

Speaking to a roundtable of reporters Thursday morning, Thornberry said the Budget Committee was “looking at a variety of options” on defense spending.

However, he added, the BCA level “is inadequate to defend the country especially given the growing number of complex threats that we face around the world.” 

That sentiment is echoed in his 13-page letter that rattles off a list of security concerns, including increased defense spending by Russia and China, North Korea’s nuclear program and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Thornberry said “other actors on the international stage see this as a time to take advantage of doubts about the United States. The result is a more dangerous world.

“It may seem ironic, but is still true, that reducing our military spending in the hopes of improving our financial situation may well bring about more instability in the world — economic and otherwise — that damages our economy and undermines the American way of of life,” he told Price.

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