The two-year budget agreement is a positive development for defense watchers — mitigating about half the sequester cuts expected to gouge the defense budget in fiscal year 2014.
The agreement, announced Tuesday night by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and nondefense programs. By some simple math, that leaves some $31.5 billion in sequester relief for defense over the two-year period.
The Pentagon was facing a roughly $52 billion cut from its $527 billion request in fiscal year 2014. Now, the budget agreement says defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion that year. That figure presumably includes the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons programs, meaning the department will likely be working with closer to a half-trillion-dollars in funding in fiscal 2014 — and, to do so, it has front-loaded most of the newfound sequester relief.
“This is a positive outcome for the military and in particular, for the defense industry,” Lexington Institute Chief Operating Officer Loren Thompson told National Journal, “because it means the president’s request for the Pentagon would only be cut by about 5 percent, where the caps would have put it $52 billion lower. What the sequester relief does is, in effect, reduce the cut to the Pentagon’s base budget in half.”
While the agreement doesn’t stave off sequestration’s impact on defense completely, Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said “it softens it.” He confirmed that the sequester relief is “much more” in the first year of the two-year deal.
The implication of this uneven distribution in sequester relief means that fiscal year 2015 will see less extra money to play around with from this deal.
Thompson, however, cautions, “We shouldn’t assume any of these agreements mean much beyond the year in which they are passed — the 2014 number is the one that really matters. Who knows what will happen beyond the election?”
What We're Following See More »
"Like Donald Trump himself, the Trump campaign’s new national finance chairman has a long history of contributing to Democrats—including Hillary Clinton. Private investor Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s new campaign fundraising guru, has contributed more than $120,000" to candidates since 1995, about half of which has gone to Democrats.
Paul Ryan told CNN today he's "not ready" to back Donald Trump at this time. "I'm not there right now," he said. Ryan said Trump needs to unify "all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement" and then run a campaign that will allow Americans to "have something that they're proud to support and proud to be a part of. And we've got a ways to go from here to there."
The Daily Beast has unearthed a piece that Donald Trump wrote for Gear magazine in 2000, which anticipates his 2016 sales pitch quite well. "Perhaps it's time for a dealmaker who can get the leaders of Congress to the table, forge consensus, and strike compromise," he writes. Oddly, he opens by defending his reputation as a womanizer: "The hypocrites argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women (and does so legally and openly) shouldn't become a national leader? Is there something wrong with appreciating beautiful women? Don't we want people in public office who show signs of life?"
An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.