GOP rep. to reach out to defense hawks with budget amendment

GOP rep. to reach out to defense hawks with budget amendment

Rep. Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations House passes year-end tax package Indiana New Members 2019 MORE (R-Ind.) is expected to offer an amendment Wednesday night to try to win over defense hawks who took issue with a defense spending provision in the House GOP budget. 

The amendment, which was obtained by The Hill, would strike out a provision in the budget and bump up the Pentagon’s war funding account to $96 billion next year and wouldn’t require any offsets. 

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Originally, the proposal Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) unveiled a day earlier proposed about $90 billion in funding for the account, known as the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund. But in order to get that increase, the budget required the amount to be offset somehow.

Senior GOP lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) rejected that part of the deal. Many were already frustrated that the budget stuck to sequestration budget caps that were created by a 2011 law. 

After Price said Tuesday that the HASC was exploring possible offsets, defense hawks said Wednesday that Price had given them assurances they wouldn’t have to find those funds.

The amendment introduced by Rokita, the vice chairman of the Budget panel, makes clear that the decision to not find offsets wouldn’t affect the blueprint’s timeline to balance.

“The Federal budget will remain in balance by fiscal year 2024 and thereafter,” the proposal says. 

Rokita’s amendment would also change the reconciliation instruction the budget would issue to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee so that it would find $1 billion in deficit reduction, rather than the original $100 million. 

Republicans are expected to adopt Rokita’s change to OCO funding, which could make the budget much more likely to pass in the House when they hold the floor vote by the end of next week.

Their problem, however, could be their GOP counterparts in the Senate. The blueprint Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) introduced Wednesday would keep OCO at $58 billion, the level President Obama asked Congress to approve for next year.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he plans to introduce an amendment during the panel’s Thursday markup that would raise the OCO amount to about $90 billion. The only issue is the budget would impose a 60-vote point of order against any legislation that would call for more than the $58 billion.

If each resolution passes their respective chambers, Republicans are aiming to reconcile their competing documents by April 15 and reach a joint conference agreement.

—Bernie Becker contributed.