Senators Craft Plan to Soften Impact of Defense Cuts
Three senior GOP senators are working on an amendment to the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill that would smooth out the $52 billion cut the Pentagon’s current year budget is scheduled to absorb under sequestration.
The amendment, which would be introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is expected to call for the defense budget to take only a $26 billion hit in FY 2014, with the rest of this year’s sequester applied over the next seven fiscal years, reported CQ. If successful, the amendment would allow DOD to avoid a deep trough in its budget this year but, at the same time, limit the growth of spending to only 1 percent annually through FY 2021. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, is working with McCain and Sessions on the amendment.
The 2011 Budget Control Act places a $498 billion cap on defense spending in FY 2014 — $52 billion below the president’s request — and then allows the budget to climb by 2.5 percent a year through FY 2021. The lawmakers have not yet settled on the exact language of the amendment, according to the story.
It is not clear whether the amendment would attract Democratic votes. In general, Democrats have opposed plans to ease the impact of sequestration on DOD that don’t offer similar relief to domestic agencies.
The plan surfaced Monday as the Senate began to take up the annual defense policy bill, S. 1197. Over 100 amendments to the legislation, including a number on highly contentious issues, have been filed and there’s a good chance the chamber won’t complete action on the bill before leaving for its Thanksgiving recess at the end of the week.
If the debate on S. 1197 needs to resume after the break, there will be very little time for the House and Senate to hold a conference committee to hash out a compromise version of the legislation before the end of the year.