U.S.

April 30, 2012

House puts its imprint on Obama’s defense budget

by Donna Cassata
Associated Press

Domestic military base closings are out. The Global Hawk drone is back in.

A Republican-led House panel is putting its mark on President Barack Obama’s proposed defense budget, reversing several of the Pentagon’s wishes. Members of six Armed Services subcommittees, working April 26 and 27, clearly followed the adage of their chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., who earlier this year sent a blunt message to the Obama administration: “While the president proposes, Congress disposes.”

The Pentagon wanted another round of base closings in this deficit-cutting era. The Readiness Subcommittee said no, with Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., calling the notion “flawed.”

The Pentagon wanted to retire 18 of the Air Force’s Global Hawk drones from the Block 30 program. The Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee rejected that idea, adding $260 million to continue operating the high-altitude unmanned aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“Each Global Hawk was procured for more than $100 million, so shelving them when they are almost brand new at a time when the demand for intelligence has never been higher makes no sense,” said Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.

This week marked the start of an annual congressional rite – the show of strength by the military panels as they acquiesce to some Pentagon budget requests, reject others and tweak plenty more. The process this year comes amid demands for greater austerity, driven by the agreement last year between Obama and congressional Republicans to reduce projected defense spending by $487 billion over 10 years.

That agreement set the defense budget at $546 billion for next year. The president proposed $4.6 billion more and House Republicans added $3.7 billion to that amount by cutting safety-net programs for the poor.

Calculating how much to spend on priorities within the military with fewer dollars than had been projected is the challenge for the Armed Services committee members in both houses of Congress.

“The pressure we’re all under is the money,” Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the panel’s top Democrat, said in an interview. “It’s less money than people would like, so you have to figure out how you make those decisions.”

The full House Armed Services Committee will meet May 9 to finalize their version of the defense budget. The Senate Armed Services panel gets its turn the week of May 21.

Looming over the process is the possibility of automatic, across-the-board cuts dictated by the failure of the so-called congressional supercommittee to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in reductions over 10 years. The Pentagon could face another 10-year cut of around $500 billion, beginning in January 2013.

For now, lawmakers are focused on putting together a budget for next year.

Members of the panel resisted the Air Force’s plan to mothball 18 of the Global Hawk drones. The service had said the aircraft’s cost at $215 million apiece make it less cost-effective than the existing U-2 spy planes that burst on the scene in the 1950s and were critical in finding Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962. The military wanted to rely on the U-2 instead of the Global Hawk drones.

Northrop Grumman, the aircraft’s prime contractor, builds the planes in Palmdale, Calif., located in McKeon’s district. The aircraft is based at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, Calif., soon to be in the redrawn congressional district of Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, also a member of the committee.

The program also is one of many that the Air Force manages at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the district of Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, another committee member.

Tactical Subcommittee Chairman Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., pointed out that last June a senior Pentagon official had called the Global Hawk essential to national security with no alternative at less cost. Eight months later, the planes were out.

“The Global Hawk aircraft provides time on station and range that no other aircraft can provide,” Bartlett said.

At least one committee move was widely hailed, especially amid an election-year fight over who is doing more for Israel – Obama or Republicans.

The Strategic Forces subcommittee boosted money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system by $680 million. The system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars. The money would be in addition to the $205 million that the Obama administration and Congress agreed to in a special request in the 2011 budget and would cover several years, through fiscal 2015.

“Securing additional funding to deploy additional Iron Dome batteries is an Israeli necessity, an American priority, and a strategic imperative,” said Rep. Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines December 19, 2014

News: SpaceX’s attempt to land rocket on floating barge postponed - It’s set to be one of the most groundbreaking moments in humanity’s six decades of space exploration. Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law - President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion federal spending measure into law Dec. 16, officially ending any threat of a government...
 
 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Trial set for ex-Navy engineer in military secrets case A former Navy civilian engineer is scheduled to stand trial next summer on charges of trying to steal aircraft carrier schematics. Media outlets report that 35-year-old Mostafa Awwad of Yorktown, Va., pleaded not guilty Dec. 17 to two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and...
 
 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Army to launch cruise missile-detecting aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez The Army plans to launch an aerostat, part of the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor,” in late December 2014. The JLENS aerostat will be tethered to the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan

AF delivers Iraqi F-16s for training in US

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan Iraqi air force captain Hama conducts preflight inspections while inside a new to service Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon Dec. 17, 2014, located at the nearby Tucson International Airport...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn

Short-notice: A new way to exercise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepare for an aeromedical evacuation exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker Dec. 5, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The operation was executed in supp...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe

Japan, Australia to provide F-35 maintenance sites in Pacific region

Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe An F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter carrier variant prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 6, 2014. Japan and Australia will be sharing...
 




2 Comments


  1. Global Hawk Sucks

    Congress is crazy for keeping the Global Hawk!! What a WASTE is money!!


  2. Congress Strikes Again

    Wasting more money on an aircraft we don’t need!! Tisk-Tisk, Congress!!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>