OMB chief to Congress: Keep link between DOD, domestic spending

Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun DonovanShaun L. S. DonovanHouse Dems call on OMB to analyze Senate budget plan Overnight Finance: Dems turn up heat on Wells Fargo | New rules for prepaid cards | Justices dig into insider trading law GOP reps warn Obama against quickly finalizing tax rules MORE on Wednesday urged Congress to maintain the tether between nondefense and defense spending, calling many civilian programs essential.

Last year’s GOP budget blueprint, released by then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.), proposed to provide sequestration relief for the Pentagon by increasing defense spending at the expense of funding for domestic programs.

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A Democrat on the House Budget panel Wednesday asked Donovan how such a spending plan would affect government agencies.

Donovan said agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security would suffer from spending cuts because they fall under the nondefense side of the federal budget.

“That’s one of the reasons why it’s so critical,” he said, to maintain the link between defense and nondefense spending if Congress were to reverse sequestration.

Donovan’s comments came just two days after President Obama released his second-to-last budget that asks Congress to breach spending ceiling by $74 billion in fiscal 2016, which begins in October. 

The proposal asks Congress to replace sequestration budget caps established by a budget deal from 2011 by increasing discretionary spending for both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

Some GOP lawmakers, however, have criticized the plan for its call to raise spending levels. More hawkish Republicans have said the sequester should be reversed, for at least the Pentagon, to ensure military readiness efforts are appropriately funded. 

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, who is expected to unveil a GOP budget blueprint by April 15, has raised the idea of breaking that link between defense and nondefense spending to provide more funding to the Defense Department.

Federal budget experts have said in order to ease sequestration next year, the spending caps would need to be raised on both sides, which was done in a budget deal struck in December 2013 between Ryan and then-Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (D-Wash.).