Senate Democrats seek spending parity between defense and non-defense

By Tony Bertuca / June 26, 2017 at 3:35 PM

Senior Senate Democrats sent a letter to GOP leadership Monday reminding them that any fiscal year 2018 spending bill will require bipartisan support and urged Republicans to join them at the negotiating table to hash out legislation that provides equal topline relief from the 2011 Budget Control Act for both defense and non-defense priorities.

The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“We are committed to continuing the parity principle that has guided each of our recent bipartisan budget agreements,” the letter states. “In the same way sequestration has undermined military readiness, sequestration has inhibited economic growth and job creation by failing to adequately invest in the infrastructure that makes our communities thrive: roads, bridges, transit and railroad systems, broadband, ports, airports, waterways, schools, and safe and clean water systems.”

The letter, which also urged the rejection of “poison pill riders” and the Trump administration's “misguided” southern border wall, comes as Republicans in the House have reached a tentative deal to fund base defense spending at $621 billion and non-defense at $511 billion, according to congressional sources.

Meanwhile, any FY-18 spending legislation will require the support of at least eight Democrats to pass the Senate.

“Unless a budget agreement is reached, the sequestration budget cuts required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will slash $5 billion from fiscal year 2017 funding levels -- $2 billion from defense and $3 billion from non-defense discretionary funding -- and continue sequestration’s devastating consequences in fiscal year 2018, consequences that will last a generation or more,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to state that shortfalls in domestic spending have “hurt the American people, our economy and make us less secure as a nation.”