U.S. defense chief urges Congress to stick to bipartisan budget deal

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 03, 2016 2:38 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter Thursday urged Congress to stick to a bipartisan budget agreement that locked in spending levels for fiscal 2016 and 2017, warning that reopening the deal would lead to inefficiencies and could raise concerns overseas.

Carter told military leaders and industry at an event hosted by Microsoft Corp that the Department of Defense needed greater stability to plan its spending levels and prepare for the complex challenges it faces around the world.

"We’ve got to come together in Washington and break the gridlock for such important functions as funding the federal government," Carter said. "We can't go in every fiscal year with chaos and continuing resolutions. That’s a money waster ... because it causes us to manage inefficiently."

Carter said he worried that Congress could undermine the two-year budget agreement that set funding levels for this fiscal year and the one that begins Oct. 1.

"I really hope the bipartisan budget agreement sticks," Carter said, noting that it was even more difficult to maintain such deals in a presidential election year.

U.S. defense officials worry that Republican moves to add funding to the Pentagon's fiscal 2017 budget plan could jeopardize the budget deal.

Carter said the turbulence caused by recent budget battles was not helpful for managing the Pentagon and gave allies and potential enemies the false impression that the U.S. military was in disarray when it was actually investing well overall.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Bernadette Baum)