House lawmakers approved defense appropriations legislation last week that would use a war-funding gimmick to circumvent spending limits that were agreed to just last fall.
The appropriations bill, which passed 282-138, follows defense policy legislation that the House approved last month in redirecting roughly $16 billion from Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to the military’s base budget.
The redirected money would be spent on additional major weapons and other items the Pentagon did not request.
The OCO funding, however, would only be able to support combat operations abroad until next April — only half-way through the fiscal year. Lawmakers who support this gambit believe the next president and Congress will then have no choice but to pass supplemental funding for combat operations for the remainder of the fiscal year.
This is an inappropriate and deceptive way to handle the defense budget.
President Obama has issued veto threats for both the policy and appropriations legislation, calling the House’s war-funding maneuver dangerous and wasteful.
The Senate has not taken the House’s approach to OCO funding in its defense policy and appropriations legislation, drafting plans that are consistent with the spending limits set last fall.
While debating defense policy legislation, the Senate rejected two amendments that would have boosted spending above last fall’s spending limits.
House Passes Defense Appropriations Bill (Defense News)
Veto Threat of House Defense Spending Bill (White House)