The Pentagon opposes the GOP budget after the House passed a plan that would maintain federal budget caps but boost defense spending levels through the separate contingency war fund.
According to The Hill
, Defense Secretary Ash Carter will deliver a speech Thursday that will argue against the plan, saying defense spending caps need to be lifted to maintain military readiness.
"The secretary believes firmly that you cannot exempt the Defense Department alone from sequestration and continue to meet all the needs of our national security demands," a senior defense official told The Hill.
The Republican plan keeps in place spending caps instituted in the 2011 Budget Control Act, maintaining the Pentagon's base budget at $523 billion. But in a nod to defense hawks, lawmakers boosted the wartime funding account to more than $90 billion.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto any budget that does not lift the spending caps. His plan would increase defense spending to $561 billion with war funding at $51 billion, The Hill reported.
Defense officials say that a boost in the war funds will not have the effect of increasing the overall defense budget because it is only valid for one year and is designated solely for short-term contingencies; it cannot fund multi-year programs or strategy.
According to defense experts, the Pentagon's position means that the department will likely not adhere to the spending levels authorized by Congress, refusing to appropriate the full $90 billion, particularly if the Pentagon says it doesn't need that much for wartime spending, The Hill reported.
"That is not going to be a… supportable proposition by most members of Congress. It will be a number lower. That is a fact. That is a guarantee," said Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute's Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, according to The Hill.
She added that if the Pentagon says it doesn't need the full funds, "that will change the dynamic and keep the number a lot lower. It will keep it closer to $70 billion."
Defense budget experts predict that a deal may be struck to lift the defense caps for two years, according to The Hill.
"Congress has done it twice already, and we know they're going to do it again with the Price-Enzi deal, some kind of follow on to the Ryan-Murray, but they're not going to do it until they've exhausted every other available option and they've gone through this long, torturous path to get there," Eaglen said, according to The Hill.
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