On Defense, Senate Budget Plan Sticks Closely to House Bill

The plan released Friday by the Senate to fund government operations through Sept. 30 largely follows the full-year package the House passed Feb. 19, H.R. 1, for programs affecting defense communities. Overall, the Senate Democrats’ proposal recommends a $513.6 billion base budget for defense programs in fiscal 2011, representing a $2.1 billion reduction from the House’s version and $5.5 billion more than DOD received in FY 2010. For military construction, the Senate calls for spending $73.3 billion, a level $0.9 billion lower than in the House plan and $3.3 billion less than the amount allocated last year.

Despite the relatively close agreement on defense and milcon programs, the Senate leadership’s plan calls for only a modest level of spending reductions to domestic agencies. And as a result, it is not expected to attract enough support from Republicans to overcome a filibuster. The Senate proposal includes only $6.5 billion in cuts government-wide from FY 2010 spending levels, compared to $61.5 billion in H.R. 1.

BRAC Levels Line Up

Funding for both BRAC accounts in the Senate proposal matches the recommendations in the House measure. Both would allocate $2.35 billion to carry out BRAC 2005 in FY 2011, reflecting a $200 million cut from the administration’s request. Funding to clean up bases closed in the first four BRAC rounds is $360.5 million in both versions, the same amount as the administration’s request. That level represents a $136 million drop from the FY 2010 allocation.

And like the House plan, the Senate proposal would cut $390 million from the White House milcon request for the Marine Corps buildup in Guam, due to execution delays and unresolved land use issues.

Similarly, the Senate would retain two provisions in H.R. 1 benefiting active installations. One 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 to accommodate the realignment of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. DOD was unable to spend the funds last year, however, as the money was included under a defense health account which lacked the authority to fund transportation projects.

This time the funds would be allocated to the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). However, the money would be made available for transportation infrastructure improvements associated with medical facilities related to any BRAC recommendation. As a result, if the language is enacted, Maryland and Virginia may need to share the funds with San Antonio.

The other provision 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.

Another provision in both versions 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.


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