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Carter Writes to Congress Outlining 2017 Budget Concerns

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2016 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter sent a letter to the House and Senate armed services committees’ leadership that outlines several concerns he has with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.

Cook said Carter sent the letter today for consideration when the House and Senate committees convene in conference over the upcoming defense budget.

While Carter makes clear his intentions to work with House and Senate leadership on the budget, Cook said, he spells out three broad areas of serious concern with the legislation.

Bill Not Aligned With DoD Priorities

Cook said the first issue concerns the House bill's funding approach, which “redirects $18 billion in wartime funding for the fight against [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and other operations, putting that money instead toward manpower and equipment the department has not requested.” The bill also does not provide the money to sustain those purchases, he added.

Second is a series of provisions in both bills that “in sum amount to excessive and unproductive micromanagement of the department, including … the Senate bill's division of acquisition, technology and logistics functions into separate stovepipes,” the press secretary noted.

The third concern is about provisions in both bills that appear to ignore the current constrained resource environment and reject critical savings and force-posture updates that senior civilian and uniformed leaders have proposed, Cook said, and they include provisions that will impose excessive costs and reduce benefits for military families.

Carter Would Recommend Veto

Congress needs to join the Defense Department in making the tough budget choices that are necessary in today’s environment, the press secretary said.

“It's important to note that Secretary Carter's message to Congress reiterates that if legislation in the current form of either the House or the Senate bill is presented to the president, the secretary will recommend a veto of that legislation,” Cook emphasized.

He also pointed out “the House's treatment of war funding is not the only serious concern we have with these bills.” The letter makes clear, he added, that many other issues in both bills would generate a veto recommendation from the secretary to the president.

 (Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

Distribution channels: Military