House panel takes budget axe to Pentagon spending plan for 2014

House appropriators took the budget axe to the Pentagon's fiscal 2014 spending plan on Tuesday, slashing just over $3 billion from the department's budget blueprint. 

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The $512.5 billion that House members set aside for the Department of Defense (DOD) in fiscal 2014 is $3.4 billion less than the nearly $516 budget President Obama sent to Capitol Hill earlier this year. 

The Pentagon spending levels set by the House on Tuesday are also $5.1 billion less than what appropriators approved for defense spending last fiscal year, according to a committee release. 

Despite the cuts, the $512 billion set aside by the House panel is still $28 billion above the defense spending levels called for under the White House's sequestration plan. 

The DOD budget laid out by the appropriations committee reflects the panel's "responsibility to prioritize tax dollars and target funding to where it’s needed most," according to committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) 

“This bill provides the funding necessary to advance our missions abroad, to prepare and equip our troops, and to ensure readiness and effectiveness of our military so that they can successfully face any threat to our land," he said in Tuesday's statement. 

The House appropriation committee's version of the DOD budget is set for a full panel markup on Wednesday. 

The reductions proposed by Rogers' panel run the gamut, cutting spending on everything from funding for the Afghan war to research and development dollars for the Pentagon's next-generation weapons. 

House appropriators also blocked funding for White House plans to transfer terror detainees out of the military prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

Committee members also fenced off federal dollars from being used to "modify any facility in the U.S. to house detainees," lawmakers said Tuesday. 

On war funding, House panel members set aside $85 billion for the Afghan war, a $1.5 billion cut from the previous fiscal year. 

"This funding will provide the needed resources for our troops in the field, including funding for personnel requirements, operational needs," according to the committee statement. 

Committee members also trimmed $750 million from DOD's procurement accounts, granting the department just over $98 billion for weapon systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Virginia-class nuclear submarine. 

Future weapons still in development also took a fiscal hit from the committee, losing $1.1 billion for research and development work on systems like the Navy's new unmanned, carrier-based drone and the Army and Marine Corps' Humvee replacement, dubbed the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. 

That said, the committee said its work ensures U.S. armed forces will have the resources to be ready to take on any future conflicts.  

"I have always maintained that this [panel] would not adversely impact the readiness of our military," House Appropriations defense subcommittee chair Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young (R-Fla.) said on Tuesday. 

"We have kept that commitment," he added.