Top HASC Democrat: Don’t Bet on Sequestration Going Away

But the Pentagon budget starting in fiscal 2016 breaks the congressional spending caps.

<p>The Air Force's A-10 fleet is being retired under the fiscal year 2015 budget request.</p>
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
March 3, 2014, 9:57 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is sub­mit­ting a five-year budget that largely ig­nores se­quester budget caps, but the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber said the lower spend­ing levels are likely here to stay.

“I think if you had to bet, you would bet that se­quest­ra­tion is go­ing to stick around,” said Wash­ing­ton Demo­crat Adam Smith, adding that lead­er­ship doesn’t have the votes to undo the budget caps.

Smith and Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Randy For­bes of Vir­gin­ia, a con­tender for the HASC chair, ap­peared on De­fense News, which aired Sunday.

The Pentagon’s fisc­al 2015 budget and five-year budget plan are be­ing re­leased Tues­day. The five-year plan is ex­pec­ted to break con­gres­sion­al budget caps by $115 bil­lion. And though De­fense De­part­ment of­fi­cials said they cre­ated a five-year plan that sticks to se­quester-level spend­ing re­quire­ments, the full plan isn’t ex­pec­ted to be re­leased to Con­gress.

And For­bes, who voted against the 2011 Budget Con­trol Act, shif­ted the blame for the cuts away from Con­gress, say­ing, “It’s the fifth year in a row they’ve rolled out cuts from this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion, when they first star­ted down this cut road “¦ when Sec­ret­ary Gates came out with these ef­fi­cien­cies, Con­gress wasn’t man­dat­ing that,” For­bes said.

In 2010, Gates out­lined ap­prox­im­ately $100 bil­lion in Pentagon sav­ings over five years. In the same year, the Sus­tain­able De­fense Task Force, which was called for by then-Rep. Barney Frank, iden­ti­fied ap­prox­im­ately $960 bil­lion in sav­ings that could be made over 10 years.

For­bes ad­ded that he be­lieves the cur­rent cuts are the “wrong dir­ec­tion” and mem­bers should “be very care­ful” when mak­ing de­cisions about the fisc­al 2015 budget.

But the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s budget for the up­com­ing fisc­al year sticks to the spend­ing caps Con­gress passed after the Decem­ber budget agree­ment. And Smith said Con­gress won’t raise the ap­prox­im­ately $496 bil­lion baseline spend­ing cap.

To stay with­in the caps, De­fense of­fi­cials are pro­pos­ing a wide ar­ray of cuts, many of which will face an up­hill fight on the Hill.

“At this point, you’ve seen op­pos­i­tion to just about every cut”¦. The bet­ter ques­tion is which of these cuts is go­ing to get con­gres­sion­al sup­port,” Smith said, adding that he is in fa­vor of many of the cuts — in­clud­ing BRAC, which most op­pose.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel pre­viewed the Pentagon’s soon-to-be-re­leased budget re­quest last week, with top of­fi­cials ap­pear­ing across Wash­ing­ton to try to get out ahead of Con­gress and shape the nar­rat­ive of what will likely be a con­ten­tious budget battle over a re­quest that in­cludes base clos­ures, a push to get rid of the A-10, and re­ques­ted changes to pay and health care.

For­bes and Smith agreed that the per­son­nel cuts face an al­most im­possible con­gres­sion­al cli­mate, with Smith not­ing that mem­bers went “bal­list­ic” over a re­cent 1 per­cent de­crease in the cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ment for work­ing-age mil­it­ary re­tir­ees.

For­bes com­pared try­ing to make changes to the grow­ing mil­it­ary per­son­nel costs be­fore the Mil­it­ary Com­pens­a­tion and Re­tire­ment Mod­ern­iz­a­tion Com­mis­sion re­leases its re­port, to a “sur­geon say­ing we’re go­ing to op­er­ate be­fore we get all your tests back.” But the com­mis­sion’s re­port isn’t sched­uled to be giv­en to Con­gress un­til 2015, well after the Oct. 1 start date of the 2015 fisc­al year.

But the Pentagon could get a budget boost, with of­fi­cials bring­ing back the “wish list” of un­fun­ded pri­or­it­ies. For­bes blamed the ad­min­is­tra­tion for shut­ting down the list un­der Gates.

“I think it’s im­port­ant we have that. We need to know what they need and what we didn’t fund,” For­bes said.

What We're Following See More »
ARE “OPEN TO NEGOTIATION”
Sens. Paul, Cruz, Johnson and Lee Oppose Senate Health Care Bill
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

The four Senators released a joint statement, saying in part, "There are provisions in this draft that repreesnt an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs."

Source:
UNKNOWN IF TRUMP WANTS 2024 GAMES IN L.A.
Trump Meets With International Olympic Committee Today
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump will meet with the International Olympic Committee Thursday amid a battle between Los Angeles and Paris for the right to host the 2024 games. The meeting at the White House will come roughly three months before members of the IOC vote on which of the two cities will welcome the Olympics during what could be the final year of Trump's presidency, should he win re-election. Trump has remained largely silent on whether he plans to fight for the U.S. to receive the games in 2024."

Source:
TRUMP SUGGESTED THERE WERE TAPES
No Comey Tapes
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon, "With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings."

Source:
DEVELOPING
Senate Healthcare Bill In Trouble?
6 hours ago
BREAKING
ALTERED, STOLE VOTER INFO
Russian Hacking More Extensive Than Previously Reported
6 hours ago
BREAKING

"The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers. ... Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign. ... The House Intelligence Committee plans to seek testimony this summer from Brad Parscale, the digital director of the Trump campaign."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login