Courtney: House Dems may not oppose OCO increase

By Justin Doubleday / February 19, 2016 at 3:11 PM

A top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee says increasing fiscal year 2017 overseas contingency operations funding above the $59 billion requested by the Obama administration may not be a total non-starter for members of his party on the panel.

In a Feb. 19 interview with Inside Defense, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), the ranking member on the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee, said Democrats on the full committee have yet to caucus to discuss the Pentagon's budget request released Feb. 9.

But Courtney said he believes Democrats may not be completely opposed to an OCO increase. The issue thus far has pitted the administration against House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), who argues the budget agreement reached last year set $59 billion as a floor for OCO, not a ceiling. Thornberry wants to increase OCO funding by as much as $23 billion above the administration's request.

“I haven't talked to people explicitly yet, but to me, the take-away is I think people are going to be very cautious and recognize that this issue is very fluid in terms of how it actually plays out,” Courtney said of committee Democrats. “I don't think people are going to be digging in with a staunch position in opposition to looking at OCO, more OCO, as this thing unfolds.”

Some of the most pressing questions borne from the Navy's budget request, Courtney noted, hinge on the final OCO number. Read about the rest of the interview with the Connecticut lawmaker in the Feb. 22 issue of Inside the Navy.