House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said he is “disturbed by rumors” that the Fiscal 2017 budget, which will be submitted to Congress in the coming weeks, may fall short of the parameters outlined in the two-year budget deal signed by President Obama in November 2015. The agreement stipulated that base defense budget would be $573 billion and the overseas contingency operations fund would be “no less than $59 billion, with the exact amount to be decided depending on world events,” Thornberry told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. “That agreement was reached two weeks before the Paris terrorist attacks and the pace of our military operations is much greater than it was then, but rather than ask for more money to cover the cost of the accelerated level of operations, the administration may be considering lowering the base amount and not asking for the increased OCO,” said Thornberry, who did not say how much lower he expected the budget to be. “If they do that, that cuts weapons, that cuts research, that cuts military capability.” Having a guaranteed minimum level of spending was key to getting the Fiscal 2016 budget approved, said Thornberry, who emphasized the importance of sticking to the agreement.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.