White House, Congress Face Looming Sequestration Threat

 - October 12, 2012, 11:50 AM
Congress won’t address sequestration until after the November 6 presidential election. (Photo: Bill Carey)

A year after industry groups such as the Aerospace Industries Association started warning about the threatened U.S. government budget reductions known as “sequestration,” the White House has offered specifics about what the impact would be for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other federal agencies.

Last month, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported to Congress that sequestration would force a 9.4-percent reduction in defense discretionary funding and cut $54.7 billion from DoD’s budget in Fiscal Year 2013. On October 9, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee issued a report that estimates an additional 1.9-percent reduction in defense funding. “The required reduction to procurement accounts would slow plans to modernize the helicopter fleet, impair the fielding of electronic warfare capabilities, make it more difficult to avoid a carrier-based strike fighter shortfall, slow efforts to field new surveillance aircraft, and disrupt the schedule of military space launches,” according to the report.

The failure of a bipartisan congressional committee to reach agreement on reducing the spiraling federal deficit last November triggered the automatic spending cuts, as required by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Sequestration would take effect in January and reduce federal spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, split between defense and non-defense outlays. The conventional wisdom is that the Congress, currently in recess, will act to reverse sequestration. But that won’t happen until after the November 6 presidential election, and the legislative body remains badly divided.

Last month, instead of approving federal agency appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013, Congress passed a six-month continuing resolution (CR) that keeps the government funded until March 27. While the CR is a “stopgap” measure that will be succeeded by other legislation, it projects $520 billion in core defense spending for the fiscal year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This amount exceeds the $518 billion already approved by the full House in its defense appropriations bill in July, and the $511 billion endorsed by the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

Consistent with those bills, the CR seeks to preserve some of the programs the Pentagon cancelled this year, which include the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30. According to the CR, “[No] appropriation or funds made available or authority granted…for the Department of Defense shall be used to retire, divest, realign or transfer aircraft of the Air Force.”

 

Comments

Chris Coombs's picture

Having served in the military (Navy 8 years) I can honestly say there is so much money wasted through inept management, fiscal malfeasance, bloated budgets, and the list can go on. A lot of what I saw was small with regards to the overall picture but all these little things add up. I recently heard a story about senior personnel in the Air Force, at Andrews, wasting gas flying top of the line aircraft for a few hours a year just to keep their flight pay. Even though they no longer fly as part of their job or will ever return to a flying job. Grant it this was second hand therefore suspicious but having been in the service it's probably true and in the big scheme of things small numbers but when you up the cost of fuel, maintenance and their flight pay it all adds up.

thomas brooks's picture

I was born in a military hospital, grew up on many military installations worldwide, served in the Regular USAF, and worked as a DOD civilian for a total of 48 years of direct exposure to the military life on many levels. If I thought I could convey the waste I have seen, I would, but know that this would be impossible. Believe me, the problem with the DOD is that no one is accountable and the waste continues fiscal year after fiscal year. The best example I can give would be at the end of a Fiscal year, money would be spent on unnecessary equipment or whatever so the money would not be lost. I have seen truckloads of good equipment, food, etc.. dumped in landfills, to avoid "property book" or inventory problems. My head spins every time I think of how much waste I have seen. Please cut DOD spending by at least half and start making our military leaders accountable for this waste.

Show comments (2)