To meet the Budget Control Act’s caps for defense spending, the U.S. Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee transferred $5 billion out of the Pentagon’s base budget into a separate spending bill for operations in Afghanistan.
The subcommittee recommends $511 billion for DoD’s base budget and $93 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO), for a total of $604.5 billion. The Pentagon requested $88 billion in OCO funding.
When asked where the extra OCO money came from, an aide to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the money had been transferred from one bill to the other to keep the base budget within the budget law’s new spending caps. The Pentagon’s contingency funds are exempt from the federal discretionary spending caps.
The panel looked to transfer anything it considered to be war-related, she said.
This is the first of the 2013 defense bills that stays within the Budget Control Act’s spending caps, including the president’s request.
Funding for the Pentagon this year is nearly $29 billion less than was appropriated in 2012, primarily due to the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, Inouye said.
The $511 billion does not include military construction or nuclear weapons programs managed by the Department of Energy, both of which are included in separate appropriations bills.
Within the top line, the Senate panel made several adjustments to the Pentagon’s spending request, including 475 reductions to programs requested in the budget.
For example, the subcommittee cut $3.8 billion in “prior year funds that are excess to defense needs due to program terminations, schedule delays or contract savings,” a subcommittee statement said.
The subcommittee endorsed a plan from the Senate Armed Services Committee to pause all force structure changes proposed by the Air Force until an independent national commission can weigh in.
“The bill directs the use of existing funds for procurements of the C-27 Spartan [aircraft] and the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30,” the subcommittee statement reads. The Air Force had proposed canceling both programs in its 2013 budget request.
The bill would also add $800 million to sustain current Air Force structure.
After making its reductions, the subcommittee redirected that money to where it saw shortfalls.
For example, the subcommittee recommends adding advance procurement dollars for an additional Virginia-class submarine and an amphibious ship. It also reverses the Navy’s proposal to “prematurely retire” seven cruisers and two amphibious ships by providing $2.4 billion to keep them operating through 2014.
The bill adds $1 billion to the National Guard and Reserve equipment account.
According to a subcommittee statement, funds were added for Army helicopters, including Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache.
The bill also increases funds to complete development of the Army’s Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System and adds $142 million for high-definition video sensors requested by U.S. Special Operations Command.
The subcommittee also recommends adding $194 million for additional Patriot PAC-3 missiles. It would increase funds to continue Abrams tank production, which the Army has said it would like to temporarily stop so that it can fund higher priority items.
The bill would fully fund the requested number of Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Pentagon’s biggest and most expensive weapon program.
The subcommittee recommends adding $500 million to the Missile Defense Agency, including $211 billion for Iron Dome, a rocket-defense system being developed jointly for Israel.
For Afghanistan, the bill would provide $5 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, $200 million for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program and $350 million for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee plans to mark up the bill Aug. 2, when several lawmakers will offer their own amendments.
While the four key committees have now spoken, final decisions have not been made. The House of Representatives has passed its version of the defense authorization and appropriations bills but the Senate has not, with no plans to take up these measures until after the August congressional recess and the Democratic and Republican national conventions.