Defense Appropriations: Saving the Most Important for Last

House Amendment to H.R. 3326

The most important responsibility of the Federal Government is ensuring the Nation’s security. Yet the House delayed the Defense appropriations bill until nearly 3 months after the start of the fiscal year – even as the President is sending 30,000 more troops into harm’s way. The Defense bill – the twelfth and final appropriations conference report to be brought to the floor – provides $636.4 billion in discretionary budget authority [BA] primarily to the Department of Defense [DoD], including $128.3 billion to support “overseas contingency operations” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the President’s assurances to the contrary last February, when he submitted his budget outline, amounts provided by this bill will not be sufficient to fund the Department’s operations through the year, and a supplemental spending bill will be needed in 2010.

The bill represents a 3.9-percent increase in base DoD spending over the 2009 enacted nonemergency level, compared with a 12-percent increase for nondefense discretionary spending. The conference report cuts the President’s request for DoD by $3.4 billion.

In addition to the spending noted above, the amendment uses Defense appropriations to provide temporary extensions to entitlement programs unrelated to the Pentagon, but in response to continued economic troubles. These provisions, in Division B of the amendment, will increase the deficit by $18.6 billion over the ten year budget window.

Read the full report here.