Defense Spending To Return To The Spotlight

Posted on November 11, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Carl Chancellor

The recent attack on Fort Hood that left 13 dead and scores wounded, means lawmakers will increase their focus on the need to spend more money to keep America safe, says Caren Turner, CEO of Turner Government Public Affairs.

Just days prior to the Fort Hood shootings, President Obama signed the Defense Department’s $680 billion budget blueprint for fiscal 2010. The authorization bill includes $550 billion for the DOD and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, along with $130 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also allows the Pentagon to increase its intelligence services.

However, the bill marks a major shift in defense spending, moving away from big-ticket weapons programs to funding for more troops and equipment for fighting small conflicts.

In signing the bill the President stressed efforts to kill or trim costly weapons contracts–including the F-22 fighter and the Army’s Future Combat System.

“This bill is an important step forward, but it is just a first step. There’s still more waste we need to cut,” said the President.

The annual defense authorization bill falls under the House and Senate armed services committees and is one of two bills required for the Department of Defense to spend money. The other is the appropriations bill crafted by the appropriation committees of the House and Senate, which provides funding to pay for the programs specified in the authorization bill.

Turner noted that under the Congressional budget process, once the authorization is signed into law, funding for the agencies, programs, and activities is then provided separately in the annual appropriation spending bill.  The process requires that the House and Senate versions of the appropriation bill be reconciled and the final version sent to both bodies for approval before going to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

 Turner said as lawmakers evaluate the defense authorization bill and decide on spending measures, it is a certainty that the events at Fort Hood will be part of the conversation.

 The question before Congress now is how to allocate funding: To equipment or domestic security?


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