In the last congressional action on FY2013 appropriations before the August recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved its version of the FY2013 DoD appropriations bill.

The SAC bill provides $511 billion for DoD appropriations in the base budget (excluding military construction, which is provided in a separate bill).  This amount is consistent with the administration’s request and the target set in the Budget Control Act of 2011, according to the committee press release.  The SAC-D bill also includes $93.3 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), almost $5 billion above the request.

The House version of the FY2013 DoD appropriations bill (passed last month) included $518 billion for the base budget and over $87 billion for OCO.

SAC chair Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) said the committee’s bill “provides for the readiness of our forces, recommends sufficient force structure to meet global demands, and maintains our technological edge.”

The SAC bill, like the House-passed bill, funds the 1.7 percent military pay raise proposed by the president.  The bill rejects proposed TRICARE fees and adds $273 million to fully fund TRICARE benefits.

Operations and Maintenance funding in the bill supports key military readiness programs and “sustains training, base operations support, and high tempo operations,” according to the committee.   The bill also adds $965 million to fund the shortfall (identified by DoD) in fuel and transportation costs.

The SAC agrees with the House bill in rejecting the administration’s proposal to retire 18 Global Hawk Block 30 UAVs.  The bill follows the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) version of the FY2013 Defense Authorization bill in ordering the Air Force to “pause” plans to adjust force structure until Congress receives a national commission report.  The SAC also would reverse the Navy’s proposal to retire nine ships.

Procurement recommendations in the bill fully fund the request for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and F/A-18 aircraft.  The SAC adds funding for Army helicopters and C-130J aircraft, and includes $1 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment account.  The bill provides funding to build 11 new ships and adds funding for one more DDG-51 destroyer.  

The Senate committee’s research and development funding recommendations support development of the Next Generation Bomber, the Prompt Global Strike Program, the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicles, and the Ohio-class submarine replacement program.

To help fund increases within the constrained funding total, the SAC makes adjustments to 475 budget line items.  The Committee says these reductions result from program terminations, delays, and adjustments after the budget was submitted in February.  The committee also cites inadequate justification, unaffordable outyear costs, and poor fiscal discipline as reasons for programs cuts.

The SAC report expresses concern that DoD lacks fiscal discipline in preparing the budget request.  The committee charges that by combining the program and budget reviews the department has lost “the ability to exercise oversight of the budget.”  As a result, the SAC maintains Congress has had to find “billions of dollars in annual savings by scrutinizing the budget request and removing funds from troubled programs, duplicative requests, and overstatement of certain funding requirements.”  The report makes no specific recommendations to address this concern, but “urges the Secretary of Defense to address these issues when building future budget requests.”

With House and Senate leaders agreeing to pass a six-month FY2013 Continuing Resolution in September, it is unlikely that the full Senate will act on the committee bill until next year.