House 2011 Funding Plan Shields Defense, Milcon

Spending on DOD, including military construction, largely would be protected under the bill introduced last week by House Republicans to fund the federal government through the remainder of fiscal 2011. While non-security programs would suffer an $81 billion cut compared to the Obama administration’s FY 2011 budget request, spending on defense would drop $15 billion, with milcon and veterans programs declining $2 billion, compared to the president’s request.

The sheer scope of the House’s proposed cuts — a total of $100 billion compared to the FY 2011 request, and $58 billion compared to current spending — raises the possibility of a government-wide shutdown as the March 4 expiration date of the current continuing resolution approaches. Senate Democrats have criticized the House measure as draconian.

It is likely that the House and Senate will need to approve at least one more short-term stopgap funding bill, holding spending at current levels for a few more weeks or months, reported CQ Today.

Md., Va. Road Funds Provided

Funding for DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) would remain at the level called for in the president’s request for FY 2011, $50.8 million.

The House bill would restore $300 million in funding that Maryland and Virginia lawmakers included in the 2010 defense spending bill to pay for transportation improvements at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia stemming from the realignment of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. DOD was unable to disburse the funds last year, however, as the money was included under a defense health account which lacked the authority to fund transportation projects.

In last week’s version, the House placed the funds in OEA’s account. The language, however, does not specifically state that the funds should be used to support the Virginia and Maryland facilities; instead, the funds are to be made available for transportation infrastructure improvements associated with medical facilities related to any BRAC recommendation. As a result, if the language is enacted, the two states may need to divvy up the funds with San Antonio.

Another provision in the measure would provide $250 million for construction, renovation or expansion of elementary and secondary public schools located on installations. Priority consideration for allocating the funds — which would flow through OEA or be transferred to the Department of Education — would be given to bases with schools suffering the most severe capacity or facility condition deficiencies, according to the language.

The legislation would allocate $20 million for energy security pilot projects at DOD facilities, led by the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment in collaboration with the Energy Department.

Overall, the House proposal would provide the Pentagon $516 billion in FY 2011, $8 billion more than the department received last year.

Some Cuts for Milcon

The House measure would allocate $2.35 billion to carry out BRAC 2005 in the current fiscal year, reflecting a proposed $200 million cut from the administration’s request. The $5 billion drop in funding compared to the FY 2010 allocation comes as BRAC implementation enters its final year.

Funding for cleanup of bases closed in the first four BRAC rounds matches the administration’s 2011 request, $360.5 million. That would represent a $136 million drop from last year’s allocation.

One significant reduction in the milcon portion of the House plan would come at the expense of the buildup in Guam. The bill recommends cutting $391 million in “lower priority projects” from the White House’s request, in accordance with the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill passed last year.

Overall, spending in the milcon and veterans affairs appropriations bill would fall $2.6 billion from the amount enacted in FY 2010 to $74.2 billion.

Many budget watchers consider the pending showdown between the House and Senate over funding the last seven months of the federal government as merely a warm-up to the contentious negotiations expected over the FY 2012 budget. The president is scheduled to announce that year’s budget request on Monday.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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