Senate Passes MilCon Spending Bill
On Wednesday, the Senate passed its version of the 2012 Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs spending bill. The first appropriations bill of the year to be passed by the Senate was approved overwhelmingly by a 97-2 vote. The Senate bill is almost identical to the House version passed June 14, but it is not clear whether senators will schedule a conference with House members on the legislation.
Total funding for was approved at $142.3 billion for fiscal year 2012, including $72.5 billion in discretionary funding and $69.5 billion in mandatory funding. Discretionary funding is $1.3 billion below the President’ s budget request and $618 million below the FY11 enacted level. The bill provides $13.7 billion for military construction and family housing, just over $1 billion below the budget request.
The bill will provide $258.8 million for the 2005 BRAC account, and $323.5 for the 1990 BRAC account, which were the amounts requested by President Obama. The House version of the bill provides $50 million more for the 1990 BRAC account, which is offset by a $50 million reduction in the 2005 BRAC account.
Among the amendments tabled during the floor debate was one by Maine Senator Olympia Snowe (R) that would have required the Defense Department to produce a report that assessed the caretaker costs associated with installations that were closed or realigned as a result of BRAC 2005. The report would also have required a description of the risks to property value, safety, and human life if the caretaker costs are not funded; a description of how the Department of Defense is funding such costs; and if such costs are not fully funded, an explanation for the shortfall.
In his remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday, Virginia Senator Jim Webb (D) questioned the fiscal responsibility of funding for two projects estimated to cost up to $1 billion between now and 2019 to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. Ultimately, however, Webb did not offer the proposed amendments. Norfolk would lose about 3,500 personnel if one of the Navy’s East Coast-based carriers is moved to Mayport.