On Wednesday, December 15th, 2010, the Congress considered the first real-term defense spending cuts since the Clinton era. Specifically, it has approved the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY2011 which, if signed by the President, would reduce defense spending by $19 bn in real terms from the FY2010 level. (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62117)
It should be noted that the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, did not protest. And why would he? He, like his boss, Barack Obama, ideologically opposes a strong defense.
What exactly did the Congress order to be reduced or abolished? The two crucial categories of defense spending that shoudn’t be reduced at all: spending on weapon purchases and on weapon RDT&E programs. Specifically:
1) The C-17 program, the CG(X) cruiser program, and the EP-X program would be abolished.
2) No funding would be provided for a Next Generation Bomber program.
3) No funding for the USMC’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, the USMC’s #1 ground vehicle priority, despite the fact that the USMC’s FY2010 procurement budget was a paltry $2.765 bn and the fact that the USMC is the most efficient of all 4 military services.
4) The DOD would receive 7 F-35 aircraft fewer than it asked for this fiscal year (FY2011).
5) Funding for the development of F-35 software would be deferred.
6) Other defense cuts such as: no purchases of replacement aircraft for crashed fighterplanes, no funds to reactivate decommissioned F-16s, not enough funding to modernize all legacy aircraft, no funding for B-1 depot repairs, etc.
7) The Act authorizes the USN to order only 9 warships during FY2011. Shipbuilding experts can tell you that to prevent the USN’s warship fleet from shrinking and to build it up to 314 warships, you need to build at least 12 vessels per year.
According to Politico.com and the Senate Appropriations Committee, the actual budget the Omnibus would authorize for the DOD would be $10.3 bn lower than the President’s request, and would cut the F-35 program by $1.05 bn and 7 fighterplanes while authorizing $450 mn for an unnecessary Alternative Engine program. (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46383_Page2.html)
The Senate Appropations Commettee has published a partial summary of the Omnibus legislation. It is available at:
This Omnibus Act would be bad news for the military, because of the defense cuts it would result in, if signed into law, but at least it would constitute additional proof that the opponents of a strong defense are lying. It would prove that defense spending does not enjoy “protected status”, is not “shielded from serious scrutiny”, and is not treated by the Congress as “sacrosanct”. It would utterly discredit the opponents of defense spending, including Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Gerry Adams, and the libertarian organizations which sent that recent letter to Boehner and McConnell.
UPDATE: Harry Reid has decided to withdraw the Omnibus Act from the Senate’s docket because he doesn’t have enough Senators to get it passed by the Congress. The DOD, and the rest of the federal government, will therefore probably be funded by another continuing resolution (CR). (http://www.teapartynation.com/forum/topics/a-victory-for-now)