Pat Towell Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget
President Obama’s FY2012 budget request, sent to Congress on February 14, 2011, included $670.9 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD), of which $553.1 billion was for the so-called “base budget” of the department (that is, the cost of routine, peacetime operations excluding the cost of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan). The remaining $117.8 billion in the DOD budget request was to cover the cost of so-called “overseas contingency operations (OCO),” including operations in those two countries.
However, the Budget Control Act (BCA) enacted in early August set ceilings on FY2012 discretionary budget authority that would require a reduction of $35.7 billion from the total amount the Administration had requested for so-called “security agencies”—a category that includes the DOD base budget, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, and the Energy Department’s Nuclear National Security Agency, as well as the Department of State and various international activities funded by other federal agencies.
Before the BCA was enacted, the House had passed its version of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540), which would authorize $1.8 billion more than was requested for DOD in February. The bill was passed on May 26, 2011, by a vote of 322-96 after a floor debate highlighted by a relatively narrow vote (204-215) to reject an amendment by Representative McGovern that would have required the President to send Congress an accelerated plan for handing over security operations in Afghanistan to the government of that country. Also prior to the enactment of the BCA, the Senate Armed Services Committee reported on June 22, 2011 an initial version of the authorization act (S. 1253) which would have authorized $6.4 billion less that the Administration requested for FY2012, of which $5.9 billion would be cut from the base budget.
The version of the FY2012 DOD appropriations act (H.R. 2219) passed by the House on June 14, 2011, would reduce the President’s requested base budget by $8.9 billion. However, the bill would provide $842 million more than the President’s $117.8 billion OCO request. Thus the net reduction to the President’s request for H.R. 2219 as passed by the House would be $8.1 billion.
The first legislative action that applied the BCA-mandated spending reduction to FY2012 defense funding legislation was taken by the Senate Appropriations Committee on September 7, 2011, when it adopted discretionary spending ceilings for each of its 12 subcommittees that required the Defense Subcommittee to cut $25.9 billion from the President’s request for programs funded by the DOD Appropriations bill. On September 15, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported an amended version of the House-passed DOD Appropriations bill (H.R. 2219) that would cut $29.3 billion from the Administration request. That reduction included $5.0 billion that was cut from the budget request for war costs to take account of President Obama’s announcement on June 22, 2011 that the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be reduced by 33,000 by the end of FY2012.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved on November 15, 2011 a revised version of the FY2012 defense authorization bill (S. 1867) that would reduce the FY2012 national defense authorization by an additional $21 billion, on top of the reduction of more than $6 billion that would have been made by the committee’s earlier bill (S. 1253). All told, S. 1867—which the Senate began to debate on November 17—would cut $27.3 billion from the Administration’s FY2012 national defense authorization request.
Date of Report: November 25, 2011
Number of Pages: 80 Order Number: R41861 Price: $29.95
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