WASHINGTON, DC – While House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a $611.8 billion fiscal year 2016 defense spending bill, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee announced that he will not sign the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Reed opposes the Conference Report because it uses an inefficient budget gimmick that underfunds the Pentagon’s base budget while inflating the emergency war spending account known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, which is exempted from Budget Control Act spending caps.  As a result, about one out of every six dollars in this year’s NDAA, nearly $90 billion, is counted off the books.

“There are many needed reforms in the Conference Committee Report, but the use of emergency war funds does not realistically provide for the long-term support of our forces,” said Senator Reed.   “I cannot sign this Conference Report because it fails to responsibly fix the sequester and provide our troops with the support they deserve.”

“I remain committed to working toward a more balanced, responsible way to fix the sequester so our defense and domestic needs are met.  Achieving that goal is essential to the security and financial well-being of the American people.  The Department of Defense is critical to national security, but so are the FBI, Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and many other federal agencies that help keep Americans safe,” Reed concluded.

According to Taxpayers for Commonsense, if OCO were a federal agency, the $89.2 billion included in this Conference Report would make it the second largest agency in the discretionary budget, trailing only the U.S. Department of Defense.