WASHINGTON — US House and Senate budget resolutions that keep defense sequestration cuts in place are taking fire from lawmakers and politically influential groups.
House Budget Committee leaders had hoped to complete work Thursday evening on a budget resolution that would trim $5.5 trillion in federal spending while also keeping defense and domestic spending caps in place.
The measure proposes $90 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds, up from the $50.9 billion requested by the Obama administration. The inflation is an attempt to prevent 70 GOP defense hawks, who want more Pentagon spending, from to withholding support and killing the measure on the floor.
House Budget Committee leaders are, according to reports, mulling an amendment that would further inflate the war fund to nearly $100 billion.
Most of the incoming fire was from the House GOP defense caucus — until Thursday morning when the the conservative Heritage Foundation weighed in.
"Those who proclaim the new House Republican budget will be good for our nation's defense — they're wrong," Heritage Action's CEO Mike Needham and Heritage Foundation's Director of National Security Policy Steven Bucci, wrote in an op-ed.
Heritage Action is the think tank's political arm. It is heavily influential in Republican circles, especially with the tea party faction.
"Many conservatives understand the need to boost defense spending above the depressed levels of recent years," the duo writes. "But rather than raise defense spending to appropriate levels and offset the increase by authentic, dollar-for-dollar cuts in domestic discretionary spending and structural reforms to mandatory programs, this budget proposal tries to avoid the problem by going around the normal order. That tactic will actually jeopardize our military."
Past statements by Heritage Action's Needham have created turbulence for House Republican leaders.
Without the support of a good chunk of those 70 defense hawks, House GOP leaders could lack the 217 votes on the floor needed to approve the resolution and set up a potential conference committee process with the Senate.
Meantime, across the Capitol, the Senate Budget Committee's resolution also is under the gun and has an uncertain future.
That measure would slash $5.1 trillion in federal spending, while also adhering to the spending caps. It also would grant DoD $499 billion in 2016 with $58 billion for the OCO account, and . It also proposes a future reserve fund that could be tapped
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., could offer an amendment during the second day of that panel's mark up that would take the war fund to a level close to the House's proposed $90 billion level, according to reports.
But whether or not that would garner enough votes on the Senate floor is uncertain.
The Senate resolution's defense proposal is drawing fire from the left and right.
"The Republican budget proposal would repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut federal funding for defense and domestic programs that invest in education, infrastructure, and public safety," Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a statement.
"This budget has a credibility deficit. It doesn't make tough choices, it ignores them," Reed said, accusing it of "squeezing core functions of government like education, health care, and national defense."
"When it comes to funding the military, this budget would make our nation less secure," he said. "At a time of persistent global threats, the Republican proposal fails to adequately fund our armed forces and would have a damaging impact on our military readiness, modernization, and the welfare of our service members and their families."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said "America's budget priorities should be to fully and decisively provide for our national defense."
"One major concern I have at this point is that the Senate budget as introduced fails to prioritize our national defense after years of damaging cuts to our nation's military," Rubio said in a statement. "The world is increasingly dangerous and the threats against America, our allies and our interests require a military appropriately resourced to address these challenges."
Rubio said he is "working with my colleagues to address this issue during the budget debate."