Democrats Side With Miffed Republicans To Eliminate Emergency War Fund Spending
Republican deficit hawks may have lost the battle of excessive spending in the 2016 defense budget process, but now they’re teaming up with Democrats to ensure they don’t lose the war.
Defense hawks in the GOP camp have managed to push through about $40 billion dollars in extra spending via the overseas contingency operations, a fund for war expenses which evades budget caps. But some Republicans and Democrats are preparing to put a stop to their plans next week when the budget appears on the House floor, Defense News reports.
From the very start, the plan to funnel spending through the OCO in order to sidestep spending caps was met with skepticism, but prominent defense hawks like GOP Sen. John McCain switched from his original tune of calling the move “gimmicky” and threw his support behind the decision. (RELATED: ‘Gimmicky’ Move Sliding Defense Funds Into War Budget Slowly Gains Acceptance)
The temporary Republican-Democrat alliance, composed of legislators like Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney, maintains that the plan is illegitimate, since it allocates OCO funds to non-war related programs. Even if the alliance doesn’t succeed, Hollen is placing his trust in the president to set things right.
“Ultimately the president will not allow Republican leadership to get away with these games,” Van Hollen, House Budget Committee ranking member, said on Friday, according to Defense One. “I’m confident the president will insist on an economy that works for all Americans.”
Hollen argues that defense hawks are relying on double standard: pushing defense spending, all the while ignoring important domestic programs which benefit the middle class.
“One dollar for defense, one dollar for the middle class,” Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer added.
However, the alliance is uneasy because Democrats are hoping for a corresponding spending increase in domestic programs. Mulvaney, on the other hand, wants spending increases to be offset with reductions elsewhere in the overall federal budget.
Mulvaney estimates that he can persuade 25 Republicans to side with him, since many felt forced to join with the leadership, despite personal gripes with reinterpreting the OCO fund to accommodate a host of run-of-the-mill projects.
As the debate unfolds, Mulvaney and Hollen will continue to introduce amendments to strip the OCO of every single program not directed related to war efforts. Last Thursday, the two offered an amendment to kill $530 million dollars in the OCO allocated for military base construction projects. It failed because Hollen wasn’t able to shore up enough support from members of his own party on the House Armed Services Committee.
The two intend to keep railing against what they and others are calling “OCO abuse.”
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