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Military Spending Disagreements Slow GOP Budget Process

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Jack Crowe Political Reporter

Disagreements over defense spending have delayed GOP 2018 budget resolution efforts, further delaying GOP prospects for a tax overhaul.

GOP defense hawks are pushing to raise military spending above the cap imposed six years ago but many of their fellow Republicans won’t sign off on a military spending boost unless cuts are made elsewhere.

“The sticking points are all good sticking points,” Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Renacci told the Wall Street Journal. “You have people who want to spend more on defense. You’ve got people who want to curtail spending.…In the end, we’ve got to do a little bit of both.”

Some particularly hawkish Republicans are calling for a $640 billion military budget which surpasses the current cap by $91 billion. They argue the current cap endangers national security and should be lifted in light of the current geopolitical climate.

“What we’ve done to our defense is nearly criminal, and our ability to defend ourselves has absolutely been impacted,” GOP Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah told the Wall Street Journal. Stewart is a former Air Force pilot who supports the dramatic defense spending increase.

While a subset of House Republicans feel the current defense spending level is inadequate, many of their colleagues want to prioritize efforts to balance the federal budget within the next ten years. As a result, they are hesitant to approve defense spending increases in the absence of nonmilitary discretionary spending cuts.

In contrast some Democrats have expressed a willingness to increase military spending but only if the GOP agrees to abstain from making cuts to other aspects of the budget.

“We have to have a responsible budget,” Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland told the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t think you can just say add one and cut the other.”

House Republicans were presented with five budget resolution plans at a meeting Wednesday with leadership but they failed to come to a consensus on how to proceed. They will meet again Friday to discuss their options.

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