April 19, 2014

CBO Projects High Defense Spending

  • Defense spending accounts for roughly half of the portion of the budget referred to as discretionary spending, which is determined through the annual...

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has warned that the Pentagon’s base budgetary plans would exceed the spending caps in last year’s Budget Control Act by $14 billion in Fiscal Year 2013 and by $508 billion through 2021, even before taking into account the spending limits set by sequestration under the law.

With the sequestration limits that are scheduled to start in January, CBO said in a report last week, the gaps would grow to $66 billion in FY 2013 and $978 billion through 2021. The base budgetary plans do not include overseas contingency operations such as the war in Afghanistan.

The CBO also projects that the Defense Department’s plans will cost $123 billion -- or 5 percent -- more to execute through 2017 than the department estimates. The budget office notes the historical trend of defense spending that has exceeded the department’s planning estimates, notably for pay, health care and weapons.  
           
In response, Pentagon officials have questioned some of CBO’s assumptions, saying they did not take into account many of the department’s proposals to control costs.  

The CBO’s report comes amid mounting concern in Congress over the possible effects that the automatic cuts could have on the defense industry and national security if they are allowed to take effect. This week the full House is expected to consider the defense appropriations bill.