September 2, 2014

House OKs Defense Bill But Rejects Proposed Savings

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

The House passed its Fiscal 2015 defense spending bill last week without key reforms that the Pentagon had proposed.

The legislation, opposed by the administration, appropriates $490.7 billion for the base military budget. The legislation includes weapons systems the Pentagon has requested to retire, including the A-10 Warthog close-air support plane and the U-2 high-altitude spy plane.

The House also rejected reasonable compensation reforms that the Pentagon had requested.

In testimony before a Senate panel last week, top defense officials urged lawmakers to accept their plans to modify weapons systems, compensation, and troop levels to ensure a modern force and appropriate military preparedness.

The House bill also included $79.4 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account, a placeholder number that will be finalized once the administration submits its final request. President Obama recently announced he would send about 300 military advisors to Iraq, an assignment that will be funded by the overseas account.

The situation in Iraq underscores the need for the military to be able to quickly respond to unexpected developments. But this readiness and flexibility can be undermined if elected officials hamper needed reforms -- particularly if they do so while further tightening the Pentagon budget in coming years.