"Ultimately the president will not allow Republican leadership to get away with these games," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

"Ultimately the president will not allow Republican leadership to get away with these games," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Democrats Fight 'Double Standard' for Defense Spending

Republicans can't bust through spending caps for the Pentagon's budget but stick with them for civilian agencies, Democrats say.

As Republicans celebrate a fast-clearing legislative logjam and early progress on next year's funding bills, Democrats are working to put a stop to those feel-good vibes—by drawing a line in the sand on defense spending.

In both the House and the Senate, Democrats have lined up against the GOP's approach to funding the military, raising questions of whether Republicans can get through the appropriations process without making concessions on sequester-level spending.

And should Republicans push their spending bills through the Capitol, Democrats are confident that President Obama will force them back to the negotiating table by vetoing any measures that don't lift spending caps. "Ultimately the president will not allow Republican leadership to get away with these games," House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen said in an interview Friday. "I'm confident the president will insist on an economy that works for all Americans."

On Thursday, House Republicans passed the first of a dozen spending measures, a military construction and Veterans Affairs bill that went through with just a single dissenting vote last year. This time, all but 19 Democrats lined up against the bill—and Van Hollen teamed up with some conservatives on amendments that delayed and complicated its passage.

And as that and other bills make their way to the Senate, soon-to-be Democratic caucus leader Chuck Schumer is declaring them DOA—unless Republicans give in to their funding demands. "We're putting them on notice," Schumer said last week. "Republicans should be warned right here, right now: Democrats are not going to help you pass appropriations bills that lock in senseless, automatically triggered cuts that hurt the middle class."

Republicans hope Schumer's colleagues prove more willing to negotiate. "[W]e'll have plenty of disagreements over how the money is spent during the process," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when told of Schumer's remarks. "But what I'd like to have is an amendment process that actually brings up individual bills, brings them across the floor. They're open for amendment. Senators have an opportunity to make their complaints. And I'm sure the Democrats will complain—as they did to you a few moments ago—that we're not spending enough on the domestic side. But all of that could be sorted out in the appropriations process."

The so-called sequestration cuts have long been an issue for Capitol Hill Democrats. But as Republicans seek to get around defense spending limits to appease the hawks in their party—without such consideration for domestic limits—Democrats say they've finally had enough. Van Hollen, who led the fight against the military construction bill, said the GOP's spending approach is a double standard.

"I think the public's very aware of the fact that the Republicans are playing this game with their budget and trying to increase defense spending at the expense of important investments in our economy," he said. "The OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) slush fund is a recipe for budget crisis."

Van Hollen joined with conservative GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney last week to introduce amendments that would have stopped Republican leadership from upping the overseas contingency operations account—a fund ostensibly reserved for war operations—to get around sequester-imposed spending caps. GOP leadership delayed the overall spending bill when it appeared the amendments might have enough support for passage, but a majority of Republicans stuck together Thursday to block them from being added to the bill.

Meanwhile, Democrats have problems with the funding levels in many of the appropriations bills. Caucus leaders this week told their members that the amount appropriated for veterans services was unacceptable, citing concerns raised by VA Secretary Robert McDonald.

Republicans in turn called the bill a big step forward and blamed the White House for failing to clear up the VA's problems. "The House is continuing to do its part by increasing funding for the VA, and directing those resources toward the areas that need it most: improving health care, expediting claims, advancing medical and prosthetic research, modernizing electronic health records, and more," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

And even noncontroversial defense bills, some Democrats say, will get no traction within their party without accompanying domestic spending levels that meet their liking. "One dollar for defense, one dollar for the middle class," Schumer said. Any spending bills will likely need at least six Democratic votes in the Senate to earn passage, and Schumer is calling on his caucus to block any and all measures until Republicans begin to roll back sequestration levels.

Republicans have signaled they may be open to a deal that could reduce those cuts, but it remains to be seen whether enough Democrats will band together—or Obama issues a veto—to force their hand.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.