Senate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense

The Senate Budget Committee on Friday unveiled a 2020 resolution that ignores President Trump’s request for turbo-charging defense spending in the Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) fund, leading to a proposed net decrease in both defense and nondefense spending.

In his budget proposal, Trump called for increasing overall defense spending to $750 billion, but did so by adding nearly $100 billion to OCO. The gimmick allowed Trump to technically stick to major decreases in both defense and nondefense spending that are due to go into effect in 2020 by law.

{mosads}The Senate’s proposal, which will be marked up in committee next week, stuck to the drastic cuts mandated by law, putting defense spending at $576 billion and nondefense spending at $542 billion, which together amount to a $126 billion drop from current spending caps. 

The Senate resolution put OCO funding at $67 billion, assuming it was all allocated for defense, where Trump’s plan raised OCO spending from $69 billion this year to $165 billion.

Combined, that would put defense spending at $643 billion, some $73 billion below the current level of $716 billion, and well below the president’s request. Nondefense spending would drop by $54 billion from current levels, assuming none of the new OCO funding were allocated for nondefense purposes.

But the Senate resolution also includes language that would allow defense spending to rise to $750 billion if a legal deal were reached to raise the caps. That, some budget watchers say, should be seen as the resolution’s true goal.

“Strengthening America’s future for our children and grandchildren begins by putting our nation on a more sustainable fiscal path and reducing our nation’s deficit spending, which is approaching $1 trillion per year,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).  

The resolution would also instruct congressional authorizing committees to find $94 billion of mandatory cuts, which Enzi said were linked to “reasonable reforms.”

Enzi’s proposal, however, strays from the GOP orthodoxy of putting budgets on a path to balance over 10 years. Instead, it outlines mere deficit reductions over a five-year window.

The Senate’s budget resolution is the latest salvo in the debate over 2020 spending, putting eyes on the Democrat-controlled House for its proposal. Democrats say increasing the spending caps is the top priority.

“Without action, our defense and non-defense investments will fall by ten percent, crippling our national and economic security,” said Sam Lau, a spokesman for House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.). “While Senator Enzi’s budget signals support for an increase in defense spending to a total of $750 billion in 2020, it ignores the harsh cuts to non-defense programs that are at risk this year.”

But House Democrats are struggling to reach agreement on a budget within their caucus. Top Democrats on the committee want to pair any defense spending increases with nondefense spending increases, but the left flank of the party is looking to either scale back defense spending or shift more of the increases to the nondefense side.

Updated at 3:04 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Federal budget John Yarmuth Mike Enzi Overseas Contingency Operations Senate GOP budget

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