$20B Cut Needed to Bring Defense Policy Bill Funding in Line with Debt Ceiling Deal
Starting next week, the Senate Armed Services Committee will attempt to find $20 billion in spending to cut from the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill it approved in June.
The move was prompted by the limits on national security spending included in last month’s agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Using that deal’s cap on FY 2012 discretionary spending, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday allocated spending limits for each of the panel’s 12 subcommittees. The allocation for the defense spending bill, $513 billion, was $20 billion lower than the spending level set in the defense authorization bill, S. 1253.
Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) will work with ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to craft an amendment to S. 1253 that could be considered when the bill comes to the floor, reported CQ Today. The committee also will hear from DOD officials to get their input on closing the $20 billion gap.
McCain said one candidate for taking a budget hit is the operations and maintenance accounts, which lack strong backers. Funding for defense facilities falls under those accounts.
One outstanding concern is how soon the authorization bill will come to the Senate floor. The Senate’s schedule is packed at this point, and it appears the measure could be put off until late in the year, according to CQ.