Appropriations panel boosts war spending by $5 billion

The reason for the increase in war spending? The Obama budget was about $4 billion above the defense spending caps from the Budget Control Act, so the Appropriations Committee shifted the money into the OCO account, which is not included in the caps.

The Appropriations Committee passed the spending targets on Thursday.

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“For fiscal year 2013, the administration requested more defense funds in the base bill than is allowable under the BCA, but there is not bipartisan support to cut the Department of Defense,” a committee staffer said in an email. “Therefore, the Committee is using the flexibility provided in the BCA to cover legitimate defense needs as allowed for under that Act, while abiding by the strict limits the Act placed on spending.”

The shift could lead defense budget critics to charge that budget gimmicks are being used to get around spending limits.

The war budget has long been a point of contention in budget battles, including this year — Obama said in the State of the Union that he wanted to use the savings for stimulus spending, a move that has been criticized by Republicans.

The 2013 war budget request dropped by $27 billion from the previous year, in large part due to the end of the Iraq war.

The committee aide said that each year the panel shifts some funds from the Pentagon’s base budget into the war budget, such as weapons replacement and repair, and some training, operations and personnel costs.

The president’s 2013 request also included some increases in the war budget from the year before, such as $3 billion more for troop costs — a move National Journal labeled “war-spending voodoo.”

As for what funds are getting moved from, the committee said no details on the Defense budget will be available until a markup.