Newspaper article Roll Call

Graham, McCain Want More War Money in Senate Budget

Newspaper article Roll Call

Graham, McCain Want More War Money in Senate Budget

Article excerpt

Just as Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming was unveiling the Senate's fiscal 2016 budget blueprint, a fellow Republican on the committee was announcing plans to try to increase the allowed defense spending.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the chamber's loudest skeptics of sequestration -- particularly for national security accounts -- said he would attempt to increase funding for overseas contingency operations (the account that's often shorthanded as "war money") to the level in the House GOP budget. That plan features $94 billion for the war-related account.

"It's got to spend more on defense than Barack Obama," Graham said. "Hopefully I can fix this problem in committee by doing what the House did: raise the OCO account. If I can't, I will say I won't vote on any final product, because I'd like to get the bill on the floor and see if we can fix it."

"Eventually, we've got to get it offset to get it through the House. I'm trying to find offsets between now and tomorrow," Graham said, acknowledging the timeline was such that it might not be possible to do so in the course of a day.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a senior member of the Budget Committee, panned the idea of increasing the war-related funding level as "budget gimmickry."

"They said it was phony money when we wanted to use it for the doc fix, but now it's O.K.?" Stabenow said.

There have been recurring attempts in the Senate over the past several years to capture the budgetary savings that exist, at least on paper, to help pay for stopping cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare beneficiaries. Supporters of that idea have long argued that "war savings" and the so-called Sustainable Growth Rate are both fake.

Separate from the budget dealings, House leaders have been working on a solution to the doctor payment problem.

But as for the war-funding situation -- as currently drafted, the budget resolution would lose the support of some of the Senate's more hawkish Republicans. …

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