WASHINGTON — A senior House Armed Services Committee Republican has a stern message for Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: Worry about the US military, not the IRS.

Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, HASC's seapower subcommittee chairman, is riled up after Carter told a Senate panel Wednesday that a Republican-crafted budget plan is a "road to nowhere" that ignores crucial national security programs.

The GOP's 2016 budget blueprint would inflate the Pentagon's war account by $38 billion, and HASC last week approved a Pentagon policy bill that authorizes an $89 billion war account, officially called the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund. House defense hawks, including Forbes, led the charge in securing the additional funds.

Carter and the Obama administration oppose using the war fund to offset base budget caps, while not doing the same for other agencies and domestic programs.

"This funding approach … reflects a narrow way of looking at our national security — one that ignores the vital contributions made by the State, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security Departments," Carter told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, "and disregards the enduring long-term connection between our nation's security and many other factors."

GOP members of the Senate subcommittee mostly ignored Carter's comments during a Tuesday hearing. But Forbes is taking umbrage.

"Secretary Carter seems confused about his areas of responsibility," Forbes said in a Thursday statement. "Secretary Carter is not in fact responsible for the IRS or the EPA, or any other domestic agency.

"He is responsible solely for the health of the United States military," Forbes said. "The Congress has passed a budget that provides the US military with the resources it requires to execute its missions and invest for the future. Secretary Carter should focus more on that than on promoting this Administration's political agenda."

The White House says President Barack Obama would veto any spending bills that inflate defense spending but not domestic programs.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the full committee's ranking Democrat, said Wednesday the Republican budget plan the Senate approved Tuesday could plunge the chamber back into the partisan stalemate that has plagued the Obama era.

Complete coverage of the 2016 budget

Mikulski, chairwoman of the full panel last session, predicted if Republicans insist on crafting a department-specific spending bill that adheres to their budget resolution, it would trigger "more gridlock and confrontation" for the congressional appropriations committees.

Defense analysts like the American Enterprise Institute's Mackenzie Eaglen have said it is doubtful, for a slew of political reasons, that any final 2016 defense appropriations bill will include $89 billion for the OCO account. The administration requested $50.9 billion, and analysts predict the final level will fall somewhere in the middle of both figures.

A coalition of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats in the House is vowing to force amendment votes on the floor on defense-related spending bills throughout the year that would shrink the war fund.

Twitter: @bennettjohnt

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