Hawks Face Big Obstacle on Defense Spending: Obama

By adding tens of billions for the military on a contingency basis, Republicans in Congress hope to get around the Budget Control Act without ceding any ground to President Barack Obama on domestic spending. But a closer reading of the 2011 budget statute shows it’s not that simple and Obama has more leverage than many in the GOP seem to realize. That’s because the BCA requires both Congress and the White House to sign off on any spending exempted from the appropriations caps. Absent such an agreement, whatever extra spending which Republicans add for the military will be short-lived and almost certainly trigger across-the-board cuts next January.
A March 24 memo from the Congressional Research Service, the statutory construction of the BCA itself, and interviews with veteran appropriations staff all bear this out.
The CRS memo reads, “Without the designation by the President, the additional spending above the defense spending limit would trigger a sequestration of discretionary spending in defense accounts.”
In this light, the House and Senate budget resolutions are best understood as just the beginning of an elaborate cat-and-mouse game which will play out this summer as appropriations bills begin to move through Congress.



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