Defense Bill to Pass House This Week

House lawmakers this week are set to move two of the largest annual appropriations bills, the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education spending bills, and will also take a step toward finding a way to halt automatic spending cuts due early next year.

By week’s end, the House is expected to pass the annual defense measure (H.R. 5856) that contains $519.2 billion for base Pentagon spending, which is $3.1 billion more than requested and $8 billion more than the expected Senate version, as well as $88.5 billion in emergency funds for the war in Afghanistan. 

While the bill has generally passed with broad bipartisan support, some concern could arise about the Pentagon’s topline spending in light of a new Congressional Budget Office report that the Defense Department’s plans would exceed by $14 billion the fiscal 2013 spending cap set by the bipartisan, deficit reduction law (PL 112-25). 

The spending cap issue is not likely to be resolved on the floor this week, but would need to be addressed with the Senate in either a defense spending bill conference or in a continuing resolution. 

On the Senate side, rumor has it that Senator Reid (D-NV) will not to move appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year on October 1. House Appropriations Chairman, Representative Bill Young (R-FL), says he's surprised by the decision stating that Senate Appropriations Chairman, Senator Inouye (D-HI), had repeatedly stated his intent to move a defense spending bill under regular order, including a conference before clearing it prior to the end of the fiscal year.

He said he still held out hope that Inouye would convince Reid to move a defense spending bill, but he understood the reality that a CR likely would be necessary.

The House bill, as we've mentioned previously, is very good for the Guard and includes most of NGAUS's top priorities, so we eagerly await its passage.

However, we expect Reps. McCollum (D-MN) and Kingston (R-GA) to offer a floor amendment would divert $72.4 million from all services' (defense-wide) marketing/advertising accounts, which the National Guard uses to sponsor NASCAR and IndyCar, to the deficit reduction account. NGAUS has been very vocal about our opposition to this amendment and the damage that it would cause to our recruiting and retention efforts, so we're working in the remaining hours leading up to the vote to ensure that it doesn't pass.  

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