WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday today flatly rejected the federal budget resolution approved by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday that would add billions of dollars to the defense budget without while failing to removing e the threat of sequestration from other federal agencies.
In a speech delivered to a meeting of the Chiefs of Mission at the State Department on Thursday morning, Carter said that the proposal passed by the House, which would give the Pentagon $96 billion in supplemental wartime funding in 2016, would "fail to solve the problem [of sequestration] while also undermining basic principles of accountability and long term planning."
Overall, White House requested $534.3 billion in base budget authorities and $50.9 billion in supplemental war funds for the Pentagon, for a total of $585.3 billion.
But the House approved $499 billion in base authority and $96 billion in supplemental wartime funding, and the Senate has yet to approve its version.
Carter lashed out against the resolution, which failed also to also save the agencies that the Pentagon works with overseas — the State Department, Treasury, and Homeland Security — from sequestration.
"I cannot and will not be indifferent to cuts threatening" those departments, he told a room full of Chiefs of Mission at State's headquarters in Washington, D.C. If other agencies lose money in the 2016 budget season, "the risks will accrue to our troops" in the field just as if his own department's budget was were cut, he said.
The House's one-year extra-budgetary plan to funnel money into Pentagon coffers hasn't found much support about the military brass, either.
In cCongressional hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, the vice chiefs of the armed services said that the proposed one-year fix doesn't solve their long-term readiness problems, and that on-off budget gimmicks don't allow the Pentagon to engage in long-term planning.
"We are consuming our readiness as fast as we're building it," Gen. Daniel Allyn, Army vice chief of staff, said. He complained that while some immediate training is being funded, "we are not building surge capacity" due to the uncertainty over its future budgets.
Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. John Paxton added that over half of Marine units based in the US exist in a state of "degraded readiness" because the Corps can't budget in training and needed upgrades.