OPINION: House budget good news for defense

Published 3:04 pm Thursday, April 9, 2015

Good news: The House has passed a Budget Resolution that increased critical funding for national defense, a key budget component that I strongly pushed for in negotiations.

For the last few months, we have been discussing ways to prevent devastating cuts to military funding known as sequestration from taking effect in the next fiscal year. As Congress began its negotiations for a Budget Resolution, I worked to build a bi-partisan coalition to support increased defense funding. It wasn’t always easy.

Originally, as passed out of committee, the Budget Resolution would have set base military spending at sequestration levels while creating a special account to provide additional funding conditional on whether as-yet-unidentified future savings become available. It is unwise to leave critical military funding to chance, and thankfully that proposal failed to pass.

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The House then adopted an amended budget proposal I supported that made sure no military spending was contingent on future monies that may or may not actually become available. This amended Budget Resolution passed with a vote of 228-199.

All told, defense spending is set at $619 billion. This total includes $96 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending, which is used to fund conflicts across the globe.

Because the sequestration law caps base defense spending, OCO funding will supplement our readiness operations and other military activities that would typically be funded in the base budget. This procedure isn’t ideal, but it is necessary under the circumstances to get defense funding to proper levels.

I continue to strongly advocate for revising the sequestration law to treat our military fairly.  But, until that happens, we cannot allow our military to go without the training and resources it needs to meet global challenges. The threat from ISIS is growing every day. Russia is increasingly aggressive. Conflict on the Arabian Peninsula is escalating quickly. We don’t know what will happen with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. In a dangerous world, we cannot allow the ill-advised sequestration law to keep us from properly funding national defense.

There was a lot of good in the various other Republican budgets. But, in the end, the best proposal won out. Our House Budget Resolution isn’t perfect, but it puts us on a realistic path to balance while protecting critical funding for the military. I appreciate my friend and Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price for his diligent work on this, and for listening to our concerns about proper military funding.

Martha Roby is the U.S. Representative for Alabama’s 2nd congressional district.