July 31, 2012
Credit: Credit: Lockheed Martin
The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee (SAC-D) has forwarded to the full committee a $604.5 billion U.S. defense spending bill for fiscal 2013 that for the second year in a row comes to the aid of a Lockheed Martin missile defense program.
The bill rejects a number of Pentagon force structure decisions, adding $800 million to reverse the decision to scale back the Air National Guard, and follows the Senate Armed Services Committee’s decision to ask for a national commission to report to Congress. It also adds $2.4 billion to prevent the Navy’s requested retirement of nine ships, provides $1 billion for another destroyer and $777 million for advanced procurement of Virginia-class submarines.
“Let me assure you that we made each of these adjustments while bearing in mind the department’s concern that adding back force structure could cause future unaffordable bills for the department,” committee Chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said July 31. “The increases in this bill are carefully targeted to minimize that budget strain while ensuring we maintain a strong global posture.”
The bill adds $194 million for additional Patriot PAC-3 missiles and increases funding for Abrams tanks and M88A2 Hercules tank recovery vehicle production. The bill also adds $190 million for SM-3 Block IB interceptors, $211 million for the Israeli Iron Dome counter-rocket program and $168.9 million for additional Israeli missile defense programs.
The bill also fully funds the Joint Strike Fighter, and keeps alive the Global Hawk Block 30 using funding from previous years, according to a committee aide.
Already a fight is brewing over the Army’s Medium Extended Air Defense System. The committee met the Obama administration’s request to provide about $400 million to complete the final year of development on the tri-national program. But three of four other defense committees have voted to end funding for the program — a move opposed by the U.S.’s international partners, Germany and Italy.
And the subcommittee’s support for the provision is not unanimous. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicts, “I think that will be a point of contention.” Asked if he would seek to amend the bill, Graham says: “To be continued.”
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) says he has advocated for the program. “This would enable us to meet our obligations with our European partners,” he says.
But it may be some time before the defense bill actually passes. House and Senate leadership reached an agreement July 31 on a continuing resolution that will maintain government spending at $1.047 trillion for the first six months of the new fiscal year.