The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 was signed by the President on 2 January 2013. The final bill passed the House by a vote of 315-107 on 20 December 2012 and the Senate by 81-14 the following day. It authorized an overall defense base budget of $552.2 billion and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The bill increases the Shipbuilding and Construction, Navy (SCN) account from the President’s request to provide for an additional Virginia Class submarine in Fiscal Year 2014. However, the bill also decreases funding for the Navy and Marine Corps variants of the F-35 by about $76 million. The President signed the bill despite his concerns that the bill overly restricts the Department of Defense at a time when flexible cuts are necessary and funds must be directed to the most important programs. The White House had previously threatened to veto the NDAA over language on military detainees.
The President is expected to submit his budget request to the Congress for Fiscal Year 2014 in February.
The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Authorization Act of 2012 (which provides authorizations through 2015), was signed into law by the President on 20 December 2012. The bill passed the House in 2011 but languished in the Senate until September 2012 where it was passed with amendments. The House and Senate reconciled disagreements and agreed to changes in early December 2012. There are two new provisions in this version: one that requires the fulfillment a total procurement of 180 Response Boat-Mediums, and one that requires a report and analysis on the reactivating and extending the service life of the USCGC Polar Sea until the estimated commissioning date of the new polar icebreaker. The Senate version also prohibits the Commandant from selling, or recycling the Polar Sea and Polar Star, or expediting funds for placing either icebreaker in inactive service until new icebreakers are acquired.
On April 16, 2012, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood proposed a bill, which he entitled the Maritime Administration Efficiency Act of 2012 in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner. The proposed bill contained several provisions aimed at allowing the Maritime Administration (MARAD) greater flexibility in executing its varied mission sets. While the bill itself was not introduced to the Congress, the provisions were included as part of the larger National Defense Authorization Act and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. Both of these bills passed the Congress and were signed into law by the President. The provisions include extending the critical Maritime Security Program, and allowing (MARAD) to improve efficiency in the National Defense Reserve Fleet while maximizing jobs and investments. Recognizing MARAD’s role in maritime environmental protection, the signed bills included LaHood’s proposal to give MARAD the initiative in finding innovative environmental solutions, such as new ballast water standards. The new laws also allow MARAD to implement common sense to help promote the maritime industry and keep in competitive worldwide.
Congress passed a Continuing Resolution September 22nd that will fund the federal government through March 27, 2013. The resolution was signed by the President on September 28th. The stopgap funding measure prevents a government shutdown and raises most appropriations accounts by about 0.6%, within the $1.047 trillion spending target set by the Budget Control Act. These funding levels will delay the purchase of the Coast Guard’s sixth national security cutter. The Department of Defense will be especially impacted by the new spending limits. The planned multi-year procurement of the V-22 Osprey and the scheduled overhaul and refueling of the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, will be delayed. Overseas Contingency Operations funds, which support operations in Afghanistan, will be cut by $30 billion, almost 24%.
The House passed the Defense Appropriations bill July 19th. The bill, at $606 billion, includes $518.1 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget and $87.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. It includes $5.2 billion for 29 F-385s and $15.2 billion for 11 Navy ships.
The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee passed its companion measure of the defense spending bill July 31st, with full Committee approval on August 2nd. The $604.5 billion bill includes $92.3 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. The bill is $29 billion below the FY2012 enacted levels and matches the Administration’s budget request level. It adds $293 million to Navy Operations & Maintenance accounts for increased aircraft carrier, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and mine countermeasure ships presence in Central Command. It funds the Administration’s requested numbers of Joint Strike Fighters, Navy P-8A Poseidon and F/A-18 aircraft, adds funds for advance procurement for EA-18G Growlers and to replace a USMC MV-22 Osprey lost in overseas operations. It fully funds major shipbuilding programs and add advance procurement for an additional Virginia-class submarine and an amphibious ship. It fully funds an additional DDG-51 destroyer and the conversion of a Mobile Landing Platform to an Afloat Forward Staging Base. It also provides $150 million to begin repairs to the USS Miami, which was damaged by fire earlier this year. It also supports the budget request for the Ohio-class submarine replacement program. It reverses the Navy’s proposal to prematurely retire seven cruisers and two amphibious ships, instead providing $2.4 billion to man, operate, sustain, modernize and equip these ships through FY2014. It adds $100 million to the Defense Production Act and $30 million to the Industrial Base Innovation Fund.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it is unlikely that any spending measures will pass his chamber. The House and Senate did pass a stopgap measure that will fund the government for the next six months, avoiding a government shutdown.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security marked up their funding bill in June. It funds the USCG at $10 billion, $211.7 million above the President’s budget request. The additional funding includes support for the 6th National Security Cutter and long lead-time materials for the 7thcutter (the Administration’s request included no funding for the seventh cutter). There is also funding for two more Fast Response Cutters than the Administration requested, giving the Coast Guard six new cutters in FY13. The Committee acknowledged that maintaining funding in NSC production led to cost savings for cutters 4 and 5. The bill will go to the full committee in upcoming weeks. The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, Senator Mary Landrieu, has expressed support for the House version, cementing the procurement of two more Fast Response Cutters than the Administration requested. Coast Guard figures show that it must order a minimum of four cutters per year to keep production lines open and costs down; adding the two ships will allow the Coast Guard to sign a contract for a total of six new Fast Response Cutters in FY2013. The Senate subcommittee has also expressed interest in longer-term capital budgeting for Coast Guard acquisition, to help the Coast Guard have stable, predictable funding.The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved its FY13 spending bill by voice vote on May 15th. The legislation totals $45.2 billion in discretionary budget authority, a reduction of $1 billion below the fiscal year 2012 enacted level. The bill provides $10.335 billion for the U.S. Coast Guard, of which $8.913 billion is discretionary spending and $1.423 billion is mandatory spending.
Bill text, Homeland Security Appropriations can be found here.
Bill text, Department of Defense Appropriations can be found here.
Bill text, Senate Armed Services National Defense Authorization Report can be found here.
The House unanimously passed the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act on July 9th, which would allow veterans to substitute their military experience for certain training and certification requirements when applying for federal licenses. The Navy League sent a letter of support for this bill to House leadership.
March 13th - Subcommittee on Military Personnel: “Impact of the Continuing Resolution, Sequestration, and Declining Operations and Maintenance Budgets on Military Personnel and Family Related Programs”
February 26th - Subcommittee on Seapower & Projection Forces
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