Democrats want to force the Republican majority in Congress to finally deal with sequestration—the spending limits Congress enacted under the 2011 Budget Control Act that require across the board cuts in many programs. Those programs include defense spending, much to the chagrin of Republicans. The House decided to get around some of those cuts in their recently passed National Defense Authorization Act through what Democrats are rightfully calling "budget gimmickry," using extra money from a war funding account, the Overseas Contingency Operations, to authorize the Pentagon to spend an extra $38 billion. The OCO money doesn’t count against current budget caps like regular programs. In order to try to force the issue, Senate Democrats are considering a filibuster
of the authorization.
On Tuesday, the party did not force a procedural vote to start work on the National Defense Authorization Act, but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned that Democrats still may filibuster the defense bill if their demands aren’t met.
"We have grave concerns about this bill," Reid said. "Unless it’s changed, I repeat, the president will veto it, and I hope there is some significant changes in the bill while it's here on the floor so that we can help vote to get it off the floor."
The question facing Senate Democrats on the NDAA is both procedural and political. If the caucus is willing to blockade spending bills over the OCO account, why not do the same to NDAA? Perhaps more problematically, voting against a defense authorization measure that typically passes with huge bipartisan majorities risks accusations that Democrats are politicizing the military. […]
President Barack Obama and Democrats in both chambers say they will not allow Republicans to spend more on the Pentagon without also giving non-defense programs like education, health and transportation a boost as well.
If any Democrat really worries that they'll be accused of "politicizing the military" after what Republicans have put this country through in the name of national security, he or she needs to be primaried at the next possible opportunity. This is absolutely a fight that Democrats should start now, laying down a marker on what they'll demand when appropriations bills—the ones that actually spend the money—come up.