On the Senate floor this evening, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) criticized the budget deal for manipulating defense spending:
Mr. President, after much drama and anticipation, late last Friday night – literally minutes before the government was scheduled to shut down – a deal was struck to pass a week-long continuing resolution and keep the government operating. That was the seventh continuing resolution we passed since the start of the fiscal year last October. And now we are preparing to consider the eighth and final continuing resolution to fund the government for the remaining five months of the fiscal year. Amazing. Eight continuing resolutions were necessary to fund the government for one year because my friends on the other side of the aisle neglected to bring a single one of the annual appropriations bills to the floor for consideration last year.
As my colleagues know, in addition to continued funding for all government operations, the measure we will consider tomorrow includes appropriations for the Department of Defense for the remainder of the fiscal year. Unfortunately, on top of the typical, run-of-the-mill Washington budget gimmickry, this agreement also contains a gross misallocation of imperative defense resources.
This bill uses gimmicks and shell games to artificially lower the Defense base budget rather than playing by the rules and actually demonstrating our commitment to fiscal responsibility. By doing so, it takes away billions of dollars that were originally requested for on-going combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to support our troops where it is most needed.
Within the $19 billion lower top line of the base Defense budget, this bill continues business as usual with cuts exceeding $5 billion to the amounts the President and Secretary Gates requested for critical Defense programs in order to pay for over $3.7 billion in unjustified and unexplained increases to other accounts. In addition to these shifts away from DoD’s priorities, this bill also adds over $1.4 billion for projects that were not requested by the Department and are not considered core activities of the Department of Defense. Examples of these misallocated resources include:
$473 million in non-DOD medical research not requested in the President’s Budget.
$227 million in other medical research related to DoD fields, but not requested by the Pentagon.
$550 million for local roads and schools not requested by the Administration.
Adds an additional $3.7 billion in program increases not justified by an Unfunded Request by the Service Chiefs or by the Administration.
Adds unrequested funds for Red Cross ($24 million), Special Olympics ($1.2 million), Youth Mentoring Program ($20 million) – good programs, but not DoD priorities.
Cuts about $1 billion in military construction requested in the President’s Budget, including $258 million for projects in Bahrain, the headquarters of the Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Adds a reporting provision designed to be the first step in forcing the National Guard to buy fire fighting aircraft rather than lease commercially available aircraft.
Authorizes a multi-year procurement of Navy MH-60 helicopters.