Two key House panels are proposing to add funding to the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2013 budget this week for equipment including a submarine, Navy cruisers, and unmanned aircraft.
The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee (HAC-D), which plays a key role in shaping the Pentagon’s budget, plans to approve a $519.2 billion defense spending plan today that is $3.1 billion above President Barack Obama’s request and $1.1 billion above FY ’12 levels.
The legislation the HAC-D will vote on in a closed mark-up session adds $875 million in procurement and $576 million in research funding to the Pentagon proposal, sending added funding to varied multiple weapons programs the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) also wants to bolster. The HASC plans to mark up its version of the policy-setting defense appropriation bill in an all-day public markup.
Both House panels released the text of their legislation recently, though some details of the HASC proposal already emerged in subcommittee markup sessions two weeks ago.
The HAC-D “has worked tirelessly to mitigate risks associated with budget shortfalls in areas such as shipbuilding, force structure, and weapons and facility maintenance,” Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) said recently.
The HAC-D is calling for adding advance-procurement funding for a second Virginia-class submarine next year, in FY ’14. The HASC’s Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee also approved legislation, now before the full HASC, that seeks to undo the Pentagon’s proposal to buy only on Virginia sub in FY ’14. The HASC proposed authorizing the advance-procurement monies as well as giving the Navy the legal power to incrementally fund the added sub and enter into a multi-year contract for 10 of the vessels.
The Navy’s cost-savings plan to retire seven cruisers early also is being resisted by the HAC-D, which is calling for spending $792 million to maintain and modernize three CG-47 Aegis ships the Navy wants to decommission. The HASC Readiness subcommittee also called two weeks ago for preventing three cruisers’ retirement.
The HAC-D also is joining with the HASC in rejecting the Pentagon’s attempt to shut down Global Hawk Block 30 program. The HAC-D is calling for $278 million in funding for the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. The HASC’s Air and Land Forces panel called for adding authorization for $263.3 million to the Pentagon’s $75 million request for drone.
Additional funding the HAC-D is proposing adding to the Pentagon’s budget includes advance procurement for 15 additional E/A-18G Growlers. The Navy has no current plans to continue production of the aircraft in FY ’14, though both the HAC-D and HASC Air and Land Forces subpanel have called for adding the advanced monies for Growlers next year.
The HAC-D says it cut savings from the Pentagon’s proposal including $400 million for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), a three-nation program the panel wants to terminate. The HASC’s current plan similarly would prohibit the Pentagon from obligating monies on missile-defense effort the United States previously tried to exit.
The HAC-D measure further calls for pausing the proposed retirement and reassignment of National Guard and Reserve aircraft until Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the cost-benefit analyses of the Pentagon’s proposal.
The full House Appropriations Committee (HAC) is expected to endorse the HAC-D’s defense budget proposal soon, shortly after the HASC approves the Pentagon policy bill.
HAC Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the Defense subcommittee’s bill “ensures our troops and commanders have the tools they need to advance U.S. missions.”
HAC-D and HAC Ranking Member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) called the Republican majority’s approach to the defense budget “reasonable.”
“I’m happy to report that the bill provides adequate funds to support our troops both at home and when deployed,” Dicks said. “It also provides the funding necessary to maintain force structure, including the National Guard and reserve, and provides for needed investments in research and development, and equipment acquisition.”
The HAC-D and HASC spending plans have different overall values. The HASC says its current bill is worth $554 billion with $88 billion in war funding. The HAC-D says its proposal totals $519.2 billion, with $88.5 billion for war spending. When items the HASC includes in its bill that the HAC-D doesn’t are excluded–to allow for a comparison–the authorization bill authorizes roughly $9 billion more in base defense spending than the appropriation measure does, according to a HASC spokesman.
The “chairman’s mark” the HASC released recently, before the markup, includes an array of provisions intended to help the defense-industrial base and support smaller defense contractors who want to do business with the Pentagon.
Proposals include requiring the Pentagon to develop a national-security strategy for the defense-industrial base, establish new goals for procurement contracts with small businesses, curtail contract bundling, and weigh changes to its audit agencies.
HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he would like to do even more to support defense contractors.
“As we move forward with the markup process and work to support economic growth, I would also like to see the committee correct some of the issues related to our export controls and the negative impact they have on the defense industrial base,” he said recently.