In a sign that defense hawks fully intend to mount a challenge to the proposed GOP budget, Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio teamed up with Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton to introduce an amendment Tuesday that would increase defense spending.
According to The Hill
, the measure would replace the current proposals in place for 2016 that maintain the cap on spending from 2011.
The lawmakers drew their amendment from figures put forward by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' estimates in 2012, with Rubio saying it was the "last defense budget … that was put together solely on the assessment of the threats we face."
In 2012, the Pentagon projected that the department would need $661 billion in 2016, broken down by $611 for the base budget and $50 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations budget.
"I believe defense spending is the most important obligation of the federal government," Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential contender, said, according to The Hill. "This is the worst possible time to be reducing our defense spending…we are setting ourselves up for danger."
As it stands, Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee proposed an OCO budget of $38 billion.
"I respect the work they've done, and, ultimately, that might be where we wind up," Rubio said, adding however that senators need "a serious debate" on defense spending.
Cotton suggested that $611 billion for the base budget may still not be enough, citing the rise of Russia as an adversary and the growing threat of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
"But that's not enough," Cotton said, according to The Hill. "The national defense panel said itself, at $611 billion, that projection is not enough."
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