Monday, December 12, 2011

12/9/11 RD Bulletin: DoD Auth. Conferees Meet Privately

State of Play

Legislative: Congressional appropriators are moving forward with plans to pass an omnibus spending measure that would complete appropriations for FY13 by December 16.  However, because of controversial policy riders, the Labor-HHS-Education, Interior-Environment, and Financial Services portions of the omnibus may be covered by Continuing Resolutions.  The text of the final package is expected to be released on December 12 or 13 and will be in the form of a conference report (which will prevent amendments from being offered during Floor consideration).  The Military Construction-VA appropriations bill, which has passed both chambers, will serve as the omnibus’ vehicle.

House and Senate conferees are meeting to hash out differences in their versions of the defense authorization bill, while a veto threat still hangs over the legislation due to concerns over detainee language.  However, analysts predict the President will find it hard to veto a bipartisan compromise on this controversial issue.   CQ Today reports that lawmakers may try to include the controversial detainee provisions in the year-end omnibus spending bill - in effect daring the President to veto both measures.  The defense authorization bill also includes a provision expanding the Joint Chiefs of Staff to include a representative from the National Guard.   If passed, this would be the first time that the JCS has been expanded since 1986.  Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Mark Critz (D-PA) have formed a Congressional Army Aviation Caucus to advocate for funding of Army aviation programs.  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has released a 10-point proposal to reform the congressional budget process, including implementing a biennial budget that holds the force of law.

Executive: Defense Secretary Panetta was on Capitol Hill this week to meet with members of the defense and appropriations committees.  U.S. military officials met with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing at an annual talk meant to improve relations between the two countries.  While there, Undersecretary Michele Flournoy assured the Chinese that recent U.S. moves to strengthen military ties in the region were not aimed at containing China.  The top U.S. military official in Afghanistan is privately recommending that, following the planned withdrawal of some U.S. troops in 2012, the United States should pause for one year before continuing to redeploy soldiers.  And GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has announced that he would nominate Ambassador John Bolton to be his secretary of state, should Gingrich become president.


Project on Government Oversight:
Influential Senators Want Safe Joint Strike Fighter Flight Training
Benjamin Freeman covers a recent letter from SASC Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain to Secretary Panetta expressing concern about JSF flight training plans.  (12/9/11)

Defense News: White House to DoD: Shift Programs Out of War Budget
Following moves by Senate appropriators to shift funding from the base DoD budget into the OCO account in order to meet new discretionary spending caps, OMB has issued guidance directing the Pentagon to move funding for “enduring activities” out of the OCO account and back into the base budget.   (12/7/11)

The Hill: Marines to Cut Troops, Not Weapons to Meet 2013 Budget Cuts
In order to meet defense cuts mandated by the White House, the Marine Corps will propose cutting its force to 186,000 from 202,000 while protecting its modernization account from funding reductions.  (12/7/11)

Other News and Commentary

Huffington Post:
Leon Panetta, Terrified of Fighting Previous American Militaries
Former CIA official Barry Eisler puts Panetta’s “doomsday” letter in context, pointing out that sequestration cuts would only bring DoD funding down to 2007 levels while the United States currently spends more than five times as much on its military as China.   (12/8/11)

AOL Defense: OMB OKs Carrier in 2013 Budget; Many Questions Remain
OMB has approved the Navy’s six year spending plan, which includes procurement of the first CVN-79 aircraft carrier, although questions remain over how the Navy plans to pay for the ship.  (12/8/11)

AOL Defense:
White House Orders Commercial Spy Sat Study As Deep Cuts Rumored
Following internally proposed cuts to the commercial satellite program, EnhancedView, the Obama Administration has ordered a review of the $7.3 billion program.  (12/8/11)

Defense Tech: Harriers Now Armed with AMRAAMs
A photo showing U.S. AV-8 Harriers being armed with air-to-air AMRAAM missile prompts John Reed to ask if this move is intended to hedge against shortfalls or cancellation of the F-35B.  (12/8/11)

Government Executive: Pentagon Moves Against Conversion of In-House Work to Contractors
Earlier this month, the Pentagon reminded its staff of a ban against contracting out work that had been recently completed in-house.  (12/7/11)

National Defense
: Analyst: Without F-35B, Marine Corps’ Brand Would Be Weakened
AEI’s Thomas Donnelly offers a full-throated defense of the Marine Corps’ F-35B, arguing its cancellation would reduce the Marine Corps to using just helicopters.  (12/7/11)

National Interest: America's Asia Pivot Threatens Regional Stability
Michael Swaine opines that the United States’ renewed interest in engaging China is exacerbating regional tensions and increasing the region’s reliance on U.S. naval superiority when America should instead be promoting a “more multipolar security environment.”   (12/7/11)

Reports and Publications:

Government Accountability Office:
Defense Contract Audits: Actions Needed to Improve DCAA’s Access to and Use of Defense Company Internal Audit Records
GAO asses the role of defense companies’ internal audit controls.  (12/8/11)

ouse Committee on the Budget: Repairing the Broken Budget Process
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has released a ten-point proposal to reform the congressional budget process.  (12/7/11)

Congressional Budget Office:
Monthly Budget Review
CBO’s monthly examination of the budget deficit finds that the deficit is more than $50 billion below where it was at this point last year.  (12/7/11)

Center for Strategic and International Studies: Department of Defense Base Budget Authority and OCO/Supplementals, Constant 2012 $ billions, 1989-2017
A chart from a CSIS event depicts DOD spending from 1989 projected out to 2017.  (12/2/11)  


12/13/11 Foreign Policy Initiative:
Maintaining America’s Global Responsibilities in An Age of Austerity
On Tuesday, December 13, FPI is hosting GOP lawmakers and former Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) for a forum on America’s role in global affairs during a time of fiscal restraint.