McCain Warns That He May Vote Down The Defense Budget

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Republican Sen. John McCain is warning leaders he’ll vote against the Senate defense budget if a key provision isn’t removed.

That key provision requires 60 votes in order to move forward with the $38 billion dollars slotted in the emergency war fund.

After some initial resistance, the Senate agreed to suggestions from defense hawks to slot $38 billion dollars in what’s termed the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which isn’t subject to normal budget caps. But unlike the House, Senate Budget chairman Mike Enzi decided to include a small section in the resolution requiring a total of 60 votes for the approval process, in order to placate fiscal conservatives.

This 60-vote requirement means some Democratic support is necessary to see the budget through on the Senate side, an idea which McCain finds unacceptable. So why did McCain agree to the budget in the first place?

As McCain put it, the only reason he voted for the budget in the first place is because he thought it would be a simple matter to remove the 60-vote stipulation later in conference.

Now that House and Senate leaders are trying to square the two separate but similar versions of the defense budget, it doesn’t look like McCain’s hopes will be easily met. This is precisely why he’s threatening to withdraw his support.

McCain refused to divulge whether he had been promised by other senators that the provision would be removed later, saying “I don’t talk about my conversations with other senators,” according to Politico.

During the outset of the defense budget debate this year, McCain became infamous for calling the move to bypass sequestration via the emergency war fund a “gimmick.” However, McCain quickly changed his tune when he realized that the political will did not appear to exist to remove budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011. (RELATED: ‘Gimmicky’ Move Sliding Defense Funds Into War Budget Slowly Gains Acceptance)

On the House side, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Mac Thornberry is preparing to issue his take on the first draft of the budget by April 29. While the House process appears to be going smoothly, McCain’s recent threat indicates the Senate may have a much more difficult time of it.

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