Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Vice President for National Security and International Policy Vikram Singh issued the following statement after the House of Representatives approved a defense authorization bill that uses a budgetary gimmick to sidestep sequester cuts for defense spending while domestic programs face deep sequester cuts.
The House defense authorization bill passed today, and the Senate version cleared the committee earlier this week. Both bills shift $38 billion of the president’s defense budget request into the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations, or war funding, account. This is a back-door effort to relieve the Pentagon from damaging sequester budget cuts without relieving sequester cuts on funding for affordable housing, veterans’ programs, transportation infrastructure, and other critical domestic needs. Members such as Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) have taken the right path by opposing the usually bipartisan defense bill because of this budgetary shell game.
Both chambers and the Obama administration roughly agree about the right total level of defense spending. So Congress should work to fix the sequester for both defense and nondefense funding instead of trying to secretly resource nonwar Pentagon programs through war funding. This ill serves our military, which needs genuine sequester relief to plan for the future, and shortchanges veterans and other everyday Americans. If Congress insists on this kind of end run, the president will be right to veto the defense bill.
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