The U.S. Senate Democrat members have blocked the annual defense appropriations bill in order to make Republicans debate and vote on domestic programs spending.
This blockage was the first test that the Democrats have set upon the Republicans to force them to vote on more important bills that are not in the same category as defense spending. The threat has even been supported by President Barack Obama, with a possible veto if the bill passes in Congress.
The decision to make this move comes when Republicans have used the budget negotiations to increase the spending level caps on defense, but leave the non-defense programs in place The budget caps were put in place in 2013, as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act, known as the sequester, which is a Republican-led plan that means using $38 billion of special war contingency funds that will bypass the restrictions of the 2011 Budget Control Act and with that increase the Pentagon war fund and give even more money to the military.
The vote comes shortly after the Senate had voted 71-25 for a defense bill giving $612 billion for defense spending for the fiscal 2016.
The vote of 50-45 has failed to get the 60 majority it needed to move to the next phase. All Democrats voted No, except for Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
On the other hand, Republicans voice a strong opinion that defense spending is very important when there is an international conflict and think that the Democrats want to spend taxpayer dollars on non-defense programs, which in their opinion should be cut.
According to Reuters, Democratic Leader harry Reid stated that “To have a secure nation, it is more than the people who are in armed services. The FBI needs to be funded, Drug Enforcement needs to be funded, and homeland security needs to be funded.” The White House shares the opinion and backs the Democrats in the effort to boost funding for programs, such as health research, law enforcement and environmental protection.
Barack Obama has threatened with a veto to put a stop to both measures, including the use of the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, stating that this is a gimmick to the budget and that its only aim is to avoid thinking and deciding about more pressing matters.
Democrats will continue blocking every spending bill that has been put forward by the Republican Party, until they budge on spending caps on non-defense programs. The White House and the leaders of Congress must have high level negotiations that would put an effective end to sequestration and find a solution to have an equal spending in both defense and non-defense programs.