Budget Agreement Eases Pentagon’s Sequester Pain

Aerial photograph of the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 26, 2003.  DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force. 
National Journal
Stacy Kaper and Sara Sorcher
Add to Briefcase
Stacy Kaper Sara Sorcher
Dec. 10, 2013, 2:25 p.m.

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 »
Sens. Paul, Cruz, Johnson and Lee Oppose Senate Health Care Bill
14 hours ago

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."

No Comey Tapes
15 hours ago

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."

Senate Healthcare Bill In Trouble?
16 hours ago
Senate Republicans Unveil Healthcare Bill
17 hours ago
Scalise Upgraded to Fair Condition
1 days ago

MedStar Washington Hospital Center said in a statement, "Congressman Steve Scalise continues to make good progress. He is now listed in fair condition and is beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation."


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.