July 28, 2014

Lawmakers Reject Pentagon Belt-Tightening Plans

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

Although Congress has set a general course for reduced military spending in the years ahead, in May lawmakers in both parties again rejected specific cost-saving measures proposed by the administration and the Pentagon.

Late in the month, the House approved a 2015 defense authorization bill of roughly $600 billion that rejects Pentagon plans to retire the A-10 “Warthog” plane, reduce spending on some ships, and increase military health care fees and copayments.

The House also voted to boost the administration’s proposed 1 percent pay hike to 1.8 percent, added the overhaul of an aircraft carrier, and rejected closure of Guantanamo. As in past years, the House refused to move forward on base closures.

“We ducked every difficult decision,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Despite a veto threat, a bipartisan House majority passed the legislation on a 325-98 vote.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a defense authorization bill that would support some of the administration’s cost-saving measures but rejects others.

To curb federal deficits in the years ahead, elected officials must set priorities and make difficult decisions in defense spending as well as the rest of the budget. Lawmakers who dislike the administration’s proposals have an obligation to offer their own.