Senate Defeats Amendments to Use OCO Account to Bypass Spending Caps

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Senate debate on the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill came to a halt following a dispute over amendments, after the chamber defeated two proposals to override the statutory spending caps by stashing billions of extra dollars in DOD’s war fund.Progress stalled late Thursday when Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to a request from Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) to consider an amendment preserving the special immigrant visa program for Afghans hired by the U.S. government under unanimous consent. Lee said he supported McCain’s language, but would not accede to the request unless he was assured a vote on his own amendment.“All I’m asking for is to give me a vote,” Lee said.The squabble likely threatens the Senate leaders’ plans to finish consideration of the annual policy bill by the end of the week, reported CQ Roll Call.Earlier Thursday, two amendments to add $18 billion to DOD’s uncapped overseas contingency operations (OCO) account — one from McCain for base budget needs for the Pentagon not requested by the Obama administration and the other for a variety of domestic programs — failed to achieve the necessary 60 votes to advance.McCain’s proposal would have used the funds for maintenance and training, to increase Army end strength next year by 15,000 soldiers and the other services by smaller amounts, and to purchase more tanks, ships and aircraft. The amendment, which failed 56-42, was intended to address shortfalls in readiness.The second amendment, sponsored by Jack Reed (R.I.), the committee’s ranking member, was designed to restore the parity between defense and non-defense spending that last October’s budget deal followed. It failed 43-55.last_img

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