Dateline Capitol Hill

On March 26, President Barack Obama signed Public Law (P.L.) 113-6, a measure that keeps the federal government operating for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30. The new law does not eliminate sequester reductions, but it does take steps to affect some cuts by providing flexibility to move monies to other accounts.

P.L. 113-6 includes a number of House priorities, including additional funding for embassy security and provisions for launching new weather satellites. It maintains the same level of funding as for most of the government, except for the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). Included in the law are full-year defense and military construction/VA appropriations bills that have been agreed to, in large part, by the Senate. DoD appropriations include $518.1 billion in the base budget and $87.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.

Defense spending includes:

  • $32.7 billion for DoD health and family programs, including $135 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research. The legislation prohibits DoD from implementing new TRICARE enrollment fees and limits how much money can be transferred into private sector care.
  • $127.5 billion for military personnel and pay accounts, including a 1.7 percent pay raise for uniformed personnel. It sets a ceiling on the number of active-duty military personnel at 552,100 for the Army (9,900 less than the current level), and proposes that the size of the active-duty Army be reduced by 72,000 between FY 2012 and 2017.
  • $173.5 billion for operation and maintenance. It further appropriates $1.5 billion in unrequested funds for National Guard and reserve component equipment.
  • $70 billion for research and development. Although it is $2.5 billion below last year’s spending level, but still $521 million above the president’s request.
  • $100.4 billion for procurement.
  • $10.6 billion for military construction ($927 million is for military medical treatment facilities).
  • $2.9 billion for DoD dependent schools, as well as $40 million for impact aid and $5 million for impact aid for children with disabilities. The law prohibits DoD from spending funds on a new commission to identify the next round of potential base closures.

According to the House Committee on Appropriations, savings were found in a number of ways, including $4 billion in rescissions of unused prior-year funding, $515 million for unjustified Army growth funding, and $500 million for excess inventory of spare parts and secondary items.

Meanwhile, VA appropriations include $133.9 billion for operations, and medical services will receive $53.3 billion for FY 2013 and $54.5 billion in advance funding for FY 2014. There is $608 million for minor construction, including both health care and cemetery facilities.