DOD

Never trust a Beltway Commando.

Via Defense News:

An internal strategy memo in which Pentagon leaders aim to “play hardball” to derail the Republican-led House’s defense funding “gimmick” drew the fire from House Majority Leader Paul Ryan on Tuesday, who called the memo “shameless.”

“For this administration, it’s always politics first, even at the Pentagon,” Ryan said in a statement. “This memo details with relish a plan to use a presidential veto of a defense bill as a ‘weapon.’ It’s shameless, and it threatens more than five decades of bipartisan cooperation to enact a national defense bill for our troops. The men and women who defend our country deserve better.”

The five-page memo revealed the Pentagon’s plan to enlist sympathetic lawmakers in the House and Senate against Ryan’s defense spending plan — and to provide cover for Democrats to vote against it. The strategy blueprint was dated May 13, around the time the House voted to approve the plan, and it was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.

Prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work by DoD Comproller Mike McCord and Assistant Defense Secretary for Legislative Affairs Stephen Hedger, it strategizes how to sway lawmakers as they decide whether to include an extra $18 billion in wartime Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for the final defense policy and appropriations bills they will send to the president.

The “gimmick” is the House-approved plan diversion of $18 billion in wartime funds toward base budget programs to skirt budget caps, cutting off wartime funding on April 30, 2017 — a gambit to force the next president to make a supplemental request to Congress.

“In short, we should attack the OCO gimmick and be prepared to play hardball opposing it,” the memo read. “The veto threat is our primary weapon. However, a veto threat only works if it is supported by the Democratic Leadership and their caucuses. Our job is encourage and support those efforts.”

President Barack Obama vetoed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year over its use of OCO for base budget needs.

The memo discusses an informational blitz, with fact sheets, opinion pieces and meetings with lawmakers and think tankers. It recommends engaging directly with senior lawmakers, such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — as well as key Republicans: Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

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