House lawmakers upset over funding for MEADS

“We are troubled that you are setting a precedent of using previously appropriated FY 2012 funds as an attempt to circumvent the intent of the NDAA law,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, obtained by The Hill.

MEADS officials say there’s nothing wrong with the funds being authorized for the program through March.

MEADS International said in a statement that the $25 million in funding was MEADS “reserve funding and unspent FY12 funds — no FY13 funds were used.”

“The funding is enabling the MEADS program to maintain its positive momentum toward a tactical missile intercept flight test scheduled later this year,” said the MEADS group, which is comprised of Lockheed Martin and several European defense firms.

Michael Hain, chairman of the MEADS International board, wrote in a January letter that the program was authorized to use existing program funding of $25 million from the United States, as well as roughly $17 million from Germany and Italy, as a “bridging effort.”

Hain also requested a 20 percent reduction in the program’s expenditures through March.

“There may be more funding clarity by the end of March 2013,” he wrote.

The MEADS program sparked one of the biggest fights between the Pentagon and Congress in the 2013 NDAA. The Defense Department urged Congress to continue funding the $400 million for the program, a joint missile defense venture between the United States, Italy and Germany that has been on the radar of budget-cutters for years. Defense officials have also warned of contract penalties if the U.S. funding is pulled.

The final NDAA bill signed into law included the prohibition on funding MEADS in 2013.

The Defense Department’s 2013 funding after March is still up in the air, as the continuing resolution to fund the federal government expires March 27.

Pentagon officials are pushing Congress to pass a full Defense appropriations bill, which if completed could either shut the door on MEADS funding or provide a last-minute reprieve. The House Appropriations Committee killed funds for MEADS in its bill passed last year, while the Senate panel did include MEADS funding.

The House lawmakers asked in their letter for an explanation of how the $25 million was originally going to be used and how it’s going to be used between January and March 31.

The letter was signed by Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.),             Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Rob Andrews (D-N.J.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.).