Obama To Defer on Big Defense Changes for a Year

January 19th, 2009 - by admin

Congressional Quarterly Today – 2009-01-19 22:57:58


WASHINGTON (January 15, 2009) — President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming defense team will submit a budget request this spring that closely follows the plans of the outgoing administration, pushing major changes back to next year, his top nominees said Thursday.

The current draft of the fiscal 2010 budget, prepared last fall by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will largely stand this year, top Pentagon nominees said during their confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

That $584 billion estimate, an increase of about $57 billion over previous Bush administration proposals, was never assessed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense or the outgoing White House.

William Lynn, Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary, in written responses to committee questions, said the new administration won’t have much time to change the current draft. Therefore, changes will be limited to reviewing the size of ground forces, military quality of life programs, and some specific large weapons programs.

A more complete review will have to wait for the Quadrennial Defense Review and the fiscal 2011 budget process, Lynn said.

Lawmakers and aides are expecting the new administration to release the draft estimate in early February and submit a revised formal fiscal 2010 budget request in April. But during that time, the Pentagon will be busy with transition details, reviewing the Pentagon’s next fiscal 2009 supplemental war funding request, and beginning work on the review, Lynn wrote.

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