Defense Spending

Vote on Off-The-Books Defense Spending Delayed

Written by SK Ashby

The House was poised to vote on the have-cake-and-eat-it-too bill today which would fund an expansion of medical facilities for veterans through a contingency "war fund" that is off the books.

The White House said yesterday that President Obama would veto the bill, but it may not reach that point.

A vote on the bill was delayed today because an amendment introduced by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), which would strip the controversial provision out of the appropriations bill, appeared to have enough votes to pass.

House Republicans delayed a vote Wednesday night on their first spending bill of the year amid concerns that a controversial bipartisan amendment to eliminate use of a Pentagon war fund for military construction projects might have the votes to pass. [...]

The amendment offered by the political odd couple would strike provisions of the bill for military construction projects that use funds from the Pentagon's war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.

House leadership has denied that the bill was delayed because it may be amended, insisting that it was pulled because House and Senate Republicans have not yet reached a consensus on a budget framework. But it's also possible that both explanations are correct.

House and Senate Republicans have not agreed on whether or not the contingency fund should be used to increase defense spending off the books. There are hawks in the Senate, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who want to increase defense spending by any means necessary, and on the other side of the hill the House Freedom Caucasus (yes that's a real thing) is adamantly opposed to the idea. Caught in the middle are Democrats who can safely play both sides while Republican leadership fumbles.

This is ultimately a debate about accountability. Congress can fully funding the VA and care for the veterans that they send off to war, or we can put it on the national credit card and pretend that it doesn't exist.