House panels release defense, VA bills

May 7, 2012 at 4:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. House Appropriations' defense panel released its proposed budget that includes money for a drone program the Pentagon axed in its funding request.

The bill revealed Monday included $278 million to maintain funding for the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones and $1.5 billion to restore "unrealistic cuts to facility sustainment and base operating support," the Appropriations Committee said on its Web site.

The panel allocated $519.2 billion in base defense spending, an increase of $3.1 billion above the president's request. The bill included $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, which funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Appropriations Defense subcommittee will mark up its authorization bill in a closed-door session Tuesday.

"This subcommittee has worked tirelessly to mitigate risks associated with budget shortfalls in areas such as shipbuilding, force structure, and weapons and facility maintenance," Defense Subcommittee Chairman C.W. Young, R-Fla., said, noting the panel worked in a "true bipartisan fashion."

"My long-standing commitment has always been that we will not adversely affect any soldier or have an impact on the readiness of our military," Young said.

The Senate panel approved a base budget of $511.1 billion and an overseas contingency operations budget of $93.3 billion, for a total that's about $3.5 billion below the House's proposal, The Hill reported.

The Senate panel moved $4.9 billion from the base budget into the war budget so its version would be under the caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act. The president's budget and the House Appropriations budget are higher than the caps.

"I was very disappointed that House Republicans walked away from the bipartisan agreement reached to establish a discretionary spending cap of $1.047 trillion for fiscal year 2013 and instead opted to create a new number, $19 billion below what we agreed to," Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., the House Appropriations' top Democrat, said in a statement.

The House Appropriations Committee also on Monday released its military construction and Veterans Affairs budget, which is funded at the 2012 budget level of $71.7 billion, the committee said on its Web site. The bulk of the bill's spending, $41.4 billion, would go toward VA medical services.

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