Pentagon still pressing Congress not to change defense budget

Of course, Congress has proposed numerous changes to the Pentagon’s budget in the bills that have worked their way through the legislative process this year, as part of a constant push-and-pull between the administration and Congress.

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This year’s budget process has more urgency because of the $487 billion cut, which was part of the Budget Control Act that passed last year. With the limited defense dollars, there’s less room for budgetary maneuvering.

Congress has pushed back especially hard on cuts to the Air National Guard, where personnel and aircraft reductions have been restored in bills from both the House and Senate.

The Armed Services committees have also said no to increases in TRICARE fees, and have effectively killed any chance of new rounds of base closures this year.

Carter made the argument that these were necessary hardships to put the Defense Department on a solid footing for the future.

On base closures, for instance, Carter said, “I realize that wasn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser.”

Carter also took issue with sequestration, the additional $500 billion in automatic cuts slated to begin January 2013, repeating the Pentagon’s mantra that sequestration is an irrational policy that must be changed.

On that front, Carter and the Pentagon have Congress on their side that sequestration should be fixed — the problem is that Democrats and Republicans disagree about how to do it.