The House Appropriations Committee approved a $579 billion defense spending bill on Tuesday after rejecting a Democratic attempt to overturn the measure’s use of DOD’s war account to get around the Budget Control Act spending caps.
An amendment offered by Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) would have moved $38 billion placed in DOD’s overseas contingency operations account (OCO) to its base budget. The GOP added those funds to the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request for the war account, boosting it to $88 billion.
“The overseas contingency fund has exploded beyond any reasonable measure of what a contingency fund should be,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).
Republicans argued, however, that in the absence of a new budget deal relaxing the caps, resorting to the OCO account is the only way to boost funding for the Pentagon while following the law, reported the Hill.
“I wish with all my being that we could lift sequestration to some degree,” Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said.
“Until the powers that be — White House, leadership in the House and Senate — until those three entities come together and reach some accommodation, some understanding, we’re bound by the Budget Control Act. I wish it were otherwise,” Rogers said.
Visclosky’s amendment was rejected by the committee in a 21-30 party-line vote.
The underlying FY 2016 defense spending bill would provide a 2.3 percent pay raise for service members instead of the1.3 percent increase recommended by the president. The measure also provides funding to keep the A-10 Warthog in service in opposition to an Air Force plan to retire the ground support aircraft.