Yesterday, the Niskanen Center joined several organizations dedicated to fiscal responsibility in signing two letters, organized by Taxpayers for Common Sense, to the chairmen of the Senate and House Budget Committees. The first letter urges Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) to insist on maintaining the point of order contained in the fiscal year 2016 Budget Resolution. The point of order would prevent the further inflation of the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account above the $58 billion requested by President Obama. The second letter, to House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA), urges the house to recede to the Senate position.
Even the president’s request for OCO exceeds historical averages for war spending based on the number service members in the field. The Budget Committees, however, have attempted to make an end-run around the spending limits established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 by increasing OCO spending to $96 billion.
From the letter to Senator Enzi:
We are disappointed that the final House and Senate Budget Resolutions increased the already generous $58 billion ($51 billion for the Pentagon and $7 billion for the State Department) request for the emergency OCO account. The account in both versions of the resolution is now $96 billion. OCO has already gained a reputation as a slush fund as more and more base budget items are being funded through this “off budget” account, this will only serve to burnish that reputation.
The Senate version of the Budget Resolution includes a point of order against OCO funding that exceeds the President’s Budget Request of $58 billion. We ask that Senate hold firm to this position in conference, so that lawmakers would have the opportunity for an up or down vote on this attempt to avoid the Budget Control Act restrictions.
Read the full letter to Chairman Enzi here and the letter to Chairman Price here.