WASHINGTON — Defying opposition from Democratic leadership, the White House and the Pentagon, House appropriators will consider a defense spending bill that boosts base budget needs by shorting war funding.

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday evening released its draft 2017 Pentagon-funding bill, which proposes $517.1 billion in discretionary funding for DoD's base budget needs, an amount $3 billion above the fiscal 2016 enacted spending level and $587 million below President Barack Obama's request, according to an accompanying fact sheet.

Taking the same approach as the House Armed Services Committee, it also includes a plan to shift $16 billion toward base budget needs from the Ooverseas Ccontingency Ooperations (OCO) account, which is left with about $59 billion. 

The HASC approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act late last month, authorizing the war budget through April 30, 2017, in a gambit to force the next presidential administration to submit a supplemental request to Congress.

House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., will lead a closed markup of the defense appropriations bill on Wednesday evening.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed concern over the plan, calling it "grossly irresponsible," at a news conference on Thursday May 5. The president vetoed the 2016 defense policy bill, though he has yet to threaten to veto this bill.

"President Obama believes that funding our war effort a few months at a time is grossly irresponsible and not the way that we should be demonstrating our clear commitment to our men and women in uniform who are risking so much to protect our country," Earnest said.

House Speaker Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at an April 29 news conference called the scheme, "silly" and warned that it violated the 2015 bipartisan budget agreement.

"We cannot honor the budget agreement that we all agreed to last year, which was a compromise, that established caps on what we spend domestically and what we spend from a national security standpoint by violating it in the first defense authorization bill that comes up," said Pelosi, D-Calif.

On the Senate side, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee indicated that she was not yet ready to take the proposal seriously.

"Let's see what the House does," said Sen. Barbara Mikulsky, D-Md. "We would like them to complete their allocations and start sending us bills. We're not into parsing their strategy right now."

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., has indicated his committee's version of the NDAA will not authorize OCO in the same way. He has not said what he will do instead when it marks up its version of the NDAA this week.

The Senate asked about the top-line, McCain told reporters on Tuesday, "We working on the NDAA."

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has criticized the House GOP plan, and restated his concerns to reporters during a trip to Europe earlier this month, calling it "objectionable on the face of it" to take money out of the wartime funding account during wartime."

HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, has championed the OCO scheme as a move to fund modernization and readiness, and he shot back at Carter--the latest in a war of words with House GOP hawks. Thornberry noted that the president's own budget allocated $5 billion from wartime accounts for non-war requirements.

"What's objectionable is deploying troops who aren't fully trained, whose equipment is worn out, and who didn't get the resources they needed back home to be ready to face our enemies overseas," Thornberry said in a statement.

"What's objectionable is cutting the military well below levels anyone thinks is wise, denying our troops their pay raise for three years in a row, forcing them to live in crumbling barracks or work in hangars that have literally been condemned. I am determined to turn our readiness crisis around, even if I have to do it over the secretary's objections."

Email: jgould@defensenews.com

Twitter: @reporterjoe

Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.

More In Defense News