Budget Agreement Leaves DOD $14B Short in FY’17, Work Says

The two-year budget deal signed into law Monday by President Obama is good news for the Pentagon because it provides two years of certainty over available spending, but the agreement will force the department to cut $14 billion from its draft fiscal 2017 budget, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said at a Defense One conference.

“We calculate it will be about a $14 billion delta in that given year than what we had planned,” Work said Monday, reported Defense News. “That’s going to be a harder target to hit, and we’re working through that right now.”

The deal raises the defense and non-defense spending caps by $80 billion over FY 2016 and 2017. In FY 2016, defense will benefit from $33 billion in spending over the Budget Control Act cap — $25 billion in funding that normally would be subject to the limit and $8 billion funneled through DOD’s overseas contingency operations account. As a result, defense spending will fall only $5 billion short of the department’s request for the current year.

“We don’t expect ’16 to be a huge, major disruption,” Work said.

The defense committees were expected on Monday to complete discussions over where the $5 billion in FY 2016 cuts would come from, said Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

“We should finalize the $5 billion reduction today,” he told reporters after speaking at the Defense One conference. “I don’t know for sure when it would be public,” he said.

Thornberry warned the cuts would affect “meat” in DOD’s budget, reported CQ.

“There are a number of programs where they are not able to spend as much money as they thought they would for a variety of reasons. So you can get a little bit money from those things without really costing capability,” Thornberry said, adding that “there are real programs … real capability that has to be cut to reach the $5 billion.”

“We’re definitely looking at them all and trying to do the least damage, but nobody should be under the illusion that you can do this in a non-painful, unpainful, way,” he said.

Dan Cohen
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