House supports increase for Pentagon

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee approved this year’s defense authorization bill. The bill increases the Pentagon’s budget by $4 billion over the president’s request and sets Pentagon spending at $8 billion more than allowed in last August’s Budget Control Act.

While Congress is moving to slash other programs in the name of deficit reduction, this bill funds a number of programs that even the Pentagon has said they don’t want or need. One example is a missile-defense site on the East Coast which would cost billions of dollars over the coming years. The bill would also increase funding for nuclear weapons programs. The bill is likely to move to the floor of the full House next week.

Support for this bill is particularly glaring in light of the House vote yesterday on a proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan’s bill replaced “sequestration” cuts to the Pentagon with cuts instead to other programs, including nutrition and health care. A Democratic alternative which was not allowed to come up for a vote would have reduced the deficit by limiting subsidies to the oil and gas industries and increasing taxes on millionaires. Neither version–Republican nor Democratic–made any cuts to the Pentagon, which already receives more than half of all discretionary spending.

Read more on MCC’s take on military spending.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Ben Hochstedler
    Permalink

    What do we make of the committee’s response to similar criticisms? McKeon states regarding the president’s supposed statements on vulnerabilities in his military strategy: “The $4 billion in funding that my committee restored is applied to address precisely those vulnerabilities. Moreover, the total authorized funding is consistent with the House-passed fiscal year 2013 budget, which actually reduces discretionary federal spending below the caps established by the BCA.” (from http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ContentRecord_id=1ecb001d-3946-4b91-9c86-08e08f6ea017 )

    Do we expect the legislators to be in support of the continued increases? Seems like despite recent federal budget resolutions, the legislators will nullify them half a year later because otherwise they will look like they aren’t supporting the country’s military headed by the president.

  2. Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach
    Permalink

    Good questions here. Yes, the House-passed budget would reduce overall spending below BCA caps, but it would do so by making much deeper cuts to non-Pentagon spending than the BCA requires, thus allowing for this increase to the Pentagon. As for the budget addressing supposed vulnerabilities, Secretary Panetta addressed that in a press conference last week: http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=5032.

    As to whether legislators will support the continued increases, it is almost certain the defense authorization bill will pass the House this week. The Senate’s funding level will not be as high, so the final compromise will be somewhere in between.

    It is important to let legislators know that in any broader agreement to reduce the deficit (made later this year in the lame duck or in early 2013), the Pentagon–which makes up more than half of all discretionary spending–cannot possibly be left out of the mix. There is general support for this within quite a few congressional offices, but it will be important for them to know they have constituent support for taking a politically-risky stance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s