McCain floats bill to lift defense budget caps

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain on Thursday introduced legislation that would repeal mandatory budget caps enacted in 2011 for national security spending, citing new challenges from Russia, China and the Islamic State that have strained shrinking Pentagon resources.

"Again and again, national security requirements have materialized after the Budget Control Act was passed, but we have forced our military to tackle a growing set of missions with arbitrary and insufficient budget levels, revised periodically with whatever additional resources the Congress is able to scare up," the Arizona Republican said in a Senate floor speech announcing the legislation. "The results speak for themselves: Since 2011, as worldwide threats have been increasing, we have cut our defense spending by almost 25 percent in annual spending."

McCain has been a fierce opponent of the mandatory caps since they were imposed in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The sequestration process required a $50 billion cut each from defense and non-defense discretionary spending each year through fiscal year 2021.

A two-year budget deal reached at the end of 2013 extended sequestration through 2023 in exchange for partial relief for the Pentagon, and lawmakers agreed in October to another package that would relieve $80 billion of the sequestration requirement through fiscal 2017, equally split between defense and non-defense spending.

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