Defense budget-setters in the House want to cut $1.85 billion from the Pentagon’s budget request for developing and buying weapon systems.
The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee (HAC-D) released on Tuesday its version of the fiscal year 2014 defense appropriations bill, which it will potentially modify and then approve in a closed markup session Wednesday. The HAC-D, which holds major sway over the Pentagon budget, calls for setting the base defense budget at $512.5 billion, which is $3.4 billion below President Barack Obama’s request and $5.1 billion below current FY ’13 levels.
Though the HAC-D proposal would cut weapons efforts–trimming $1.1 billion in research and development and $750 million in equipment procurement below the Pentagon’s request–it still would grant the Pentagon $28.1 billion more in funding that it would receive if “sequestration” cuts remain. Those $500 billion in decade-long cuts started in March. Obama’s budget proposal calls for ending sequestration, but in a way that Republicans will not accept.
House Appropriations Committee (HAC) Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) argued Tuesday it is appropriate for the defense appropriations bill to budget above the sequestration level.
“It is our duty and responsibility to prioritize tax dollars and target funding to where it’s needed most, and there is absolutely no higher national priority than the protection of our country through a strong national defense,” Rogers said in a statement.
HAC-D Chairman C.W. Bill Young described his panel’s defense bill as providing “the funding necessary to advance our missions abroad, to prepare and equip our troops, and to ensure readiness and effectiveness of our military.”
The bill includes $98.4 billion for weapons equipment and upgrades. Though the dollar figure is lower than the Pentagon’s request for procurement, it still calls for funding all 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters the Pentagon wants. The bill heeds the Navy’s request to buy eight ships, including two Virginia-class submarines and four Littoral Combat Ships. It further funds 21 EA-18G Growler electronic-warfare aircraft, 73 UH-60 Black Hawk and 37 MH-60S/R helicopters, and 18 C-130J cargo aircraft.
For research and development funding- even though the HAC-D calls for a $1.1 billion cut to the Pentagon’s request–it still supports funding for an array of major developmental programs, according to a committee summary. Those include the F-35, KC-46A aerial-refueling tanker, P8-A Poseidon, new Air Force bomber, Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Navy Future Unmanned Carrier-based Strike System, SSBN(X) Ohio-class submarine replacement, Army and Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, and Army Ground Combat Vehicle.
The HAC-D’s markup Wednesday coincides with the House Armed Services Committee’s bill-writing session on its version of the FY ’14 defense authorization bill, which sets Pentagon policy.