The White House says it strongly opposes the defense spending bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee in May because it exceeds the funding caps mandated by the Budget Control Act, and would veto the bill in its present form.
“By adding unrequested funding for defense, the House of Representatives departs from the bipartisan understanding reached a year ago,” the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a June 28 statement.
The House spending bill provides $519 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget, which is $3 billion above what the Pentagon requested, according to the House Appropriations Committee. The legislation does not cover military construction, which is included in a separate appropriations bill.
The defense spending bill is part of a larger budget plan, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. In his budget, passed by the House, the increases in defense spending are offset by deeper cuts to non-defense discretionary programs.
To pass a defense bill at this level of funding “would mean that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities such as education, research and development, job training, and health care,” OMB says.
Beyond the top line number, the Obama administration has a number of other objections to the legislation.
The White House “strongly objects” to measures that would restrict the Air Force and the Army from retiring aircraft deemed no longer necessary, including C-27Js, C-23s and RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs.
It urges appropriators to provide full funding for the Space-Based Infrared System satellites and the full $911 million requested to deactivate the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier.
The White House objects to the reduction of nearly $2.5 billion from the Army’s depot maintenance program, saying it would “create long-term delays in modernization and readiness for helicopters, radars, and the Stryker combat vehicle.”
It opposes the House Appropriations Committee’s decision to omit funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), which the United States is developing with Italy and Germany.
“This could harm our relationship with our Allies on a much broader basis, including future multinational cooperative projects,” OMB says.
The Pentagon has determined that it will not buy the MEADS system after years of development, but maintains that it has to honor its commitment to its allies and finish out the current memorandum of understanding.
While it does not “strongly object,” the administration is “disappointed” that neither House authorizers nor appropriators agreed to increase certain TRICARE fees, which the Pentagon says are necessary to address unsustainable personnel costs.
The administration also opposes funding reductions for the Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV, from which appropriators cut $66 million, and the Afloat Forward Staging Base, whose $38 million in funding was eliminated.
The White House also objects to a number of policy provisions included in the funding bill, including measures that would restrict funding to Pakistan and limit the president’s options for handling the detention of suspected terrorists.
The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee has not yet marked up its version of the bill.