Defense spending comes to House floor, Dems oppose

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) came to the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday, a $612 billion spending package to fund the Pentagon for the next fiscal year. While the bill passed out of the Armed Services Committee by a vote of 60–2, many House Democrats including Minority Leader Pelosi (Calif.) and ranking committee member Adam Smith (Wash.) are threatening to vote against the legislation due to it’s creation of an off-budget war fund which increases spending by $38 billion.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the committee, lobbied members of his own party to allow the increased funding in the bill, which technically still complies with spending caps set in 2011 by the Budget Control Act.

Many congressional Republicans don’t like this round-about approach to breaking federal budget limits, but have agreed to the increases which both President Obama and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey have indicated is a bare-minimum necessity.

Many liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill counter the argument that a $38 billion increase in defense spending is minimal and therefore justified, by calling for similar increases to domestic agencies. Rep. Smith criticized Congress’ overall budget plan, calling cuts that Republicans have proposed for some social programs “too severe”, and “draconian”.

Leader Pelosi has also been vocal, calling the extra $38 billion for the NDAA a “virtual slush fund for one part of the budget, while letting the ax fall on everything else”.

We’ll see how many of the budget limits are broken before the end of fiscal year 2015 on Sept. 30. The NDAA is only the first of many spending bills to come this summer.

Will the Republicans bend to Democratic demands of more domestic funding, or will they take the chance of having their partisan legislation vetoed at the President’s desk?


[The Hill] [Politico] [Photo courtesy Kristina Wong/The Hill]