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 2011 set ceilings on FY2012 discretionary budget authority that required a reduction of $35.7 billion from the total requested for so-called “security agencies”—a category that includes the DOD base budget, the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and State as well as the Energy Department’s Nuclear National Security Agency and the international activities of other agencies.
Before the BCA was enacted, the House had passed its version of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540), which would have authorized $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. 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.
To take account of the BCA-mandated reduction, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved on November 15, 2011 a second version of the FY2012 authorization bill (S. 1867) that would have reduced the FY2012 national defense authorization by a total of $27.3 billion. After debating that bill, the Senate passed the text of it on December 1, 2011 as an amended version of the House-passed H.R. 1540. The conference report on the FY2012 authorization bill, which cut the President’s request by $26.6 billion, was adopted by the House on December 14 and the by Senate on December 15. The President signed H.R. 1540 on December 31, 2011 (P.L. 112-81).
The version of the FY2012 Defense appropriations act (H.R. 2219) passed by the House on June 14, 2011, would have reduced the President’s requested base budget by $8.9 billion. However, the bill would have provided $842 million more than the President’s $117.8 billion OCO request, resulting in an overall net reduction of $8.1 bill to the President’s request.
The first legislative action during the year that applied the BCA-mandated spending reduction to FY2012 defense budget 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 defense appropriations bill. On September 15, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported a version of the House-passed defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2219) that would have cut $29.3 billion from the administration request.
The Senate never acted on H.R. 2219, but a House-Senate compromise on DOD funding, which largely tracked the Senate committee-reported bill, was enacted as Division A of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2012 (H.R. 2055). The House agreed to the conference report on December 16 by a vote of 296-121. The Senate approved it December 17 by a vote of 67-32. The bill was signed by the President on December 23, 2011 (P.L. 112-74).
Date of Report: February 13, 2012
Number of Pages: 96 Order Number: R41861 Price: $29.95
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