By PAUL McLEARY and BRADLEY PENISTON
WASHINGTON — Congressional committees tweaked nearly 10 percent of the money that the Pentagon requested for its fiscal year 2015 appropriations accounts before the “cromnibus” spending bill was passed on Dec. 11 — resulting in $4.4 billion in additional procurement and research and development projects — an analysis of the budget shows.
Of the 812 budget lines for procurement appropriations — as tallied by VisualDoD — lawmakers added $6.9 billion to 60 programs while taking money away from 229 other programs, for a total cut of $2.9 billion.
Overall, that works out to a net $4 billion increase in funding over what the White House and Pentagon had originally asked for earlier in the year.
That money went into buying things both that the services didn’t ask for — but still clearly wanted — as well as things that they most definitely did not want, like $120 million more for Abrams tanks that the Army has said it has no use for, and $850 million to overhaul the aircraft carrier George Washington that the administration had planned to defer until the 2016 budget.
The bill also added money to continue operation of the A-10 aircraft, which the Air Force wants to scrap, as well as blocking the retirement of some AWACS surveillance airplanes.
Congress also added 15 F-18 Growler aircraft to the Navy’s stable, as well as an additional LPD-17 amphibious ship.
The final procurement-appropriations amount came to $101.9 billion, meaning that lawmakers adjusted nearly 30 percent of the lines and around 10 percent of the total amount.
On the research-development-test-evaluation (RDT&E) side, the budget contained 784 lines for procurement. Lawmakers added $3 billion to 115 initiatives, while taking away $2.6 billion from 159 other accounts. The final RDT&E-appropriations amount came to $62.2 billion, meaning that lawmakers adjusted more than 35 percent of the lines and 8.7 percent of the total amount.
Overall, a look at the total swing for all procurement and RDT&E accounts shows that there were $9.9 billion in additions and $5.5 billion in cuts, or a $4.4 billion net increase to investment accounts over the base budget request.
The final DoD base budget that is awaiting passage by the Senate is for $490.2 billion in base discretionary funding overall, which is $3.3 billion above the fiscal year 2014 level. In addition, the bill includes $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for the war in Afghanistan and other operations around the globe.
A good portion of that OCO money actually goes toward readiness and reset activities which have traditionally lived within the base budget, so even cuts to the base in these areas are not always felt by the services, further blunting the edge of the fiscal austerity measures that the administration, Congress, andPentagon leaders have long decried.