ACTION ALERT: Why Is Congress Protecting the Pentagon?
May 24, 2013
Rebecca Griffin / Peace Action West & Kerry Young / Congressional Quarterly Roll Call
House Republican appropriators are preparing to write fiscal 2014 spending bills that would protect spending for the military and homeland security by making deep cuts to domestic programs. Meanwhile, the federal government is about to spend $10 billion on 400 bombs that even military commanders say have “no military value.” Your representative sits on the committee that can cut funding for the B-61 nuclear bomb before it is too late.
Why Is Congress Protecting the Pentagon?
Rebecca Griffin / Peace Action West
OAKLAND, Calif. (May 23, 2013) -- It's hard to find the words to express how angry this makes me. Right now House Republicans are working on bills that would protect the Pentagon from cuts by slashing domestic spending even more than they already have. 
Pentagon spending is still at a historic high, and millions of Americans are suffering under the strain of cuts we've already made to education, health care and social services. So protecting the Pentagon -- at a time like this -- is about as backwards as it gets.
That's why we are running a multi-state phone bank to set Congress straight. We are connecting people to key lawmakers positioned to make a difference. We want to make sure they hear from people like you -- people who want to cut Pentagon and nuclear weapons bloat so we can use our resources to invest in human needs.
More bad news: House Democrats followed the House GOP lead by proposing to replace the sequester with more Pentagon spending and deeper domestic cuts, putting off a small trim to the Pentagon until future years. 
And here's the good news: We are countering the voices in favor of Pentagon pork by pushing our allies in Congress to rally around cuts to nuclear weapons spending, and programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- one of the most expensive boondoggles in the history of the Pentagon. 
We know from past experience that coming out strong and early can make all the difference. And these next few weeks will set the stage for votes on the Pentagon and nuclear weapons budgets coming up over the next several weeks.
And that's why your support now can have such a powerful effect. The more calls we generate now, the better off we'll be once it's time for lawmakers to cast their votes. They need to be hearing from us now.
Rebecca Griffin is the Political Director of Peace Action West.
1. House Looks to Preserve Defense Spending Via Deep Domestic Cuts
2. House Dems Introduce Two-Year Sequester Replacement Bil/
3. See our piece on the F-35 boondoggle that ran today in the Orange County Register.
Peace Action West • 2201 Broadway, Ste 321 Oakland, CA 94612 • 800.949.9020
House Looks to Preserve Defense Spending Via Deep Domestic Cuts
Kerry Young / Congressional Quarterly Roll Call
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 2013) -- House Republican appropriators are preparing to write fiscal 2014 spending bills that would protect spending for the military and homeland security by making deep cuts to domestic programs.
House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky, is circulating a $967 billion plan for the 12 annual spending bills, known as 302(b) allocations, that are due to be approved by the panel on Tuesday.
The overall figure adheres to the spending caps set by recent budget agreements and assumes automatic, across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, occur in fiscal 2014 without larger agreement to cut the deficit. But the division of spending for the annual bills makes it clear that Republicans have preserved national security spending at the expense of domestic programs favored by Democrats.
Calling it an “austere budget year,” Rogers said, “This is the hand that sequestration has dealt us, and we have no choice but to try and make the best of what we have.”
The allocations provide a combined $625 billion in fiscal 2014 for the Defense, Military Construction-VA and Homeland Security bills, which would be a cut of $4 billion, or less than a percent, from the current enacted level. Discretionary spending in the rest of the government -- covered by the other nine spending bills -- would be cut by about $72 billion, or 17 percent, from current levels.
Two Bills Would Take Hardest Hits
The biggest cuts would come from the two bills that pay for implementing two of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievements -- the 2010 overhauls of health care (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) and financial services (PL 111-203).
The Labor-HHS-Education bill would provide $121.8 billion, about $35 billion, or 22 percent, less than the current level. The Financial Services bill would provide about $17 billion, a cut of $4.5 billion, or 21 percent.
Rogers’ proposal for defense spending goes well beyond a budget cap set by a bipartisan 2011 debt-limit deal. The Budget Control Act (PL 112-25) calls for cutting defense spending, which is made up of largely the Pentagon budget but also includes the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons program and some Federal Bureau of Investigation and Coast Guard accounts, by $54 billion to $498.1 billion. The remainder of federal operating expenses would be cut by $37 billion to $468.8, according to the budget law.
Already, Rogers had designated $522.4 billion for the Pentagon’s operations and construction projects in the Defense and Military Construction-VA spending bills. Additional national-security spending will come in the proposed $30.4 billion Energy-Water allocations, which provides billions of dollars for the nation’s nuclear stockpile.
Rogers’ allocations seem in line with the House budget resolution (H Con Res 25), adopted in March, along partisan lines. It calls for moving the cap on the defense category to $552 billion, while shrinking the rest of the federal operating expenses to $414 billion.
Rosa De Lauro of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations panel that oversees Labor-HHS-Education spending, blasted the cuts and accused the GOP of targeting “poor people, kids, college students, sick people, the unemployed and the disabled.”
“The majority’s funding proposal would help create a permanent underclass in this country when we should be ensuring competitiveness in the global economy with robust education and training programs,” De Lauro added. “The majority’s funding proposal tells our most vulnerable children that they just aren’t important to us and we are content to let them struggle for the rest of their lives.”
Democrats in both chambers and Obama want to set the spending cap at $1.058 trillion level that assumes the sequester is scrapped. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., has said that her committee will use $1.058 trillion cap in writing its spending bills.
Many Republicans, including Rogers, expect that the fiscal 2014 cap may be at least raised as part of a larger budget deal. As result, GOP appropriators may delay moving some domestic spending bill with hopes that severe cuts can be eased or reversed.
(c) 2013 CQ Roll Call All Rights Reserved.
Block the $10 Billion B61 Bomb
(May 23, 2013) -- The federal government is about to spend $10 billion on 400 bombs that even military commanders say have “no military value.” Your representative sits on the committee that can cut funding for the B-61 nuclear bomb before it is too late. Take action below to urge your representative to stop the bomb that costs more than its weight in gold.
SIGN THE LETTER
I am writing to urge you to withhold funding in fiscal year 2014 for the B61 bomb Life Extension Program (LEP).
A recent review projected that this program will cost $10.4 billion and be delayed for another three years. Four hundred B61s are reportedly planned for refurbishment, at roughly $25 million per bomb.
There may alternatives to the planned B61 LEP that are more budget-friendly, but these alternatives have not been sufficiently examined. Currently these B61 bombs are stationed in Europe, and some NATO members, such as Germany, have called for the B61 to be removed from their country. Tactical B61 bombs might not be deployed a decade from now, when the proposed rebuilding program would be complete.
Congress has time to sufficiently evaluate the need for a $10 billion B61 LEP. A delay would relieve budget pressure and increase clarity about the future need for the B61 before the United States makes major investments in retaining it. I urge you to support fencing the funds for the B61 LEP in FY 2014.