House panel would cut Defense budget by $9 billion from Obama request

The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee is proposing a $544 billion budget for the Pentagon in 2012, $9 billion less than the White House requested.

That level would be a $11 billion hike from the 2011 Defense spending measure approved after an eleventh-hour compromise between the White House and congressional leaders earlier this year.

The subcommittee on Wednesday will take up a $530 billion base Defense Department appropriations bill. Another House Appropriations subcommittee has already passed a $14 billion military construction bill.

The subcommittee also is proposing $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an increase of $841 million over the White House’s request.

The sum of those three spending measures is $663 billion.

The base Pentagon funding bill would cover a 1.6 percent pay hike for military personnel, the same as a House-passed Defense authorization bill.

It would provide $107.6 billion for procurement, $3.6 billion less than the Pentagon requested. But it would be an increase of $5.5 billion over the 2011 enacted level.

The legislation does not provide funding for a project to build a second F-35 fighter engine, a hot political issue in recent months. It would give the department $15.1 billion to buy 10 Navy ships; $5.9 billion to purchase 32 F-35s; $2.8 billion to buy 116 Blackhawk helicopters; and $699 million to acquire 48 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft, according to the Appropriations Committee.

In a statement, the panel points to several “common-sense reductions” it is proposing be made from the White House’s request. That list includes $500 million for “unjustified supply increases,” $40 million in logistic support contract savings and $435 million from savings resulting from delays to the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) missile program.

“Despite being $9 billion below the request, this bill fulfills our obligation to the brave men and women who selflessly serve our country, as well as their families. My long-standing commitment is that we will not adversely affect any soldier or have an adverse effect on our nation’s readiness,” Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the subpanel’s chairman, said in the same statement. “While making sensible, rational reductions, we have provided the department the resources it needs to continue our overseas commitments. It also allows us to continue to modernize and maintain readiness.”