Budget Request Sets Up Multi-Front War In Capitol

This article first appeared in AWIN First.

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to provide $526.6 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2014, a figure that does not include war-funding details or the continuing effects of across-the-board budget cuts that start in fiscal 2013.

Instead, the president is proposing deficit reductions which, if adopted by Congress, could repeal the Budget Control Act of 2011 that set in motion nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board budget cuts over the next decade. With no guarantee of Congress actually taking up Obama’s proposal or reaching a compromise on deficit reduction, uncertainty will continue to surround Pentagon spending levels.

"Unfortunately, [fiscal] 2014 programs will be significantly and adversely affected by sequester budget cuts in [fiscal] 2013,” says a Pentagon press statement.

The fiscal 2014 base budget seeks $99.3 billion for procurement accounts and $67.5 billion for research and development efforts — amounts that fall between last year’s request and enacted funding levels.

In the coming years, the Pentagon is proposing to control costs by revising missile defense programs, closing bases, reforming the military healthcare system, restructuring the cost of the contractor and civilian workforce and controlling healthcare costs.

Every one of those requests will meet resistance on Capitol Hill.

As Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Center for Strategic and International Studies earlier this week, the budget protects the Pentagon’s strategy to "pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region.

With that in mind, the budget will continue to support the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, providing $8.4 billion. It will provide $379 million to develop a long-range bomber, add $10.1 billion for space assets and invest $4.7 billion in cyberspace operations.

Meanwhile, the administration "hopes” to submit a request for war spending to Congress within the next month, according to Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s top budget official.

The overall budget request includes an $88 billion placeholder for Overseas Contingency Operations, but that includes no further detail. That amount is up to $10 billion higher than the military had anticipated, Hale says, because of a higher operational tempo and logistical difficulties.

For continuing, through-the-day coverage of the U.S. budget rollout, Aviation Week Intelligence Network subscribers should click here to visit our Fiscal 2014 budget digest page often, where the Aviation Week editorial team will post expert coverage and analysis.

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