Funding for national security should be set at $577 billion in fiscal 2016, a level that is $16 billion higher than President Obama’s budget request and $54 billion higher than next year’s mandated spending cap, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) on Friday urged the chairman of the chamber’s Budget Committee.
In a “views and estimates” letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Thornberry points to “a wide array of serious, complex threats” facing the nation, including terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, “sophisticated competitors” such as Russia and China, and the new domain of cyber warfare.
“If this is not feasible in the first year, the committee recommends, at a minimum, last year’s House-passed budget resolution level of $566 billion for national defense in the base budget for FY16 with restoration to pre-sequestration-level funding in FY17 and out,” Thornberry states.
All but five of the committee’s 36 Republicans signed the letter, which is not necessarily indicative of where the chamber’s leadership stands on the budget, reported CQ. While there is bipartisan support to relax the cap on defense spending cap, a budget agreement between congressional leaders and the White House remains elusive.
On Friday, top Air Force officials testified before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in support of its FY 2016 budget request that exceeds the spending cap by $10 billion. Fully imposing the cap next year would jeopardize the Air Force’s ability to sustain its global missions, Secretary Deborah Lee James told the panel.
“Sequestration needs to be lifted, lifted permanently,” James said.
But Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) made it clear that his panel was planning to stick to the Budget Control Act cap, reported CQ. “Right up front, we’ll all need to work extremely closely together to ensure that funding appropriated for the department is sufficient to take care of our airmen and maintain your readiness at the highest possible level,” Frelinghuysen told the witnesses.
“As we build our fiscal year ’16 bill, we’d like to have your input. But make no mistake, as I said yesterday morning, we do have to cut $10 billion with you, or we will cut $10 billion without you, but we need to do it.”