WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A move by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to skirt spending caps in fiscal 2016 by adding money to an off-budget war funding account is not a sustainable solution to the U.S. military’s budget woes, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said on Tuesday.
McCord said he welcomed any effort to provide additional funding for the U.S. military, but said taking money out of the Pentagon’s base budget proposal and putting it in a fund for “overseas contingency operations” was not the right answer.
“That is not the solution we’re looking for,” McCord told a conference hosted by Credit Suisse and McAleese & Associates. “We’re looking for a sustainable solution.”
McCord said putting that funding into the war spending account would also complicate the Pentagon’s planning for the fiscal 2017 budget.
The Pentagon’s budget plan for fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1, was about $36 billion above mandatory spending caps passed under the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The House Budget Committee on Tuesday unveiled a budget plan that would add that exact amount to the president’s request of $58 billion for the war spending account, which is exempted from the budget caps.
McCord said Congress should work on a broader solution to removing or easing the congressional budget caps.
Key U.S. senators, including John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have already said they would not support such an approach.
McCord said he expected a period of “skirmishing” between various factions in Congress before the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal 2016 was finalized.
Lockheed Martin Corp and other big arms makers are waiting for details of the fiscal 2016 budget to see which weapons programs will continue, and which may be canceled if lawmakers fail to reach a deal on removing the budget caps.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Tom Brown