By Tim Starks
The House is about to take up its annual bill for Defense spending. It’s a $491 billion measure, $570 billion if you count the war-related spending account, so there’s a lot of money to be scrutinized.
Some of the bill’s provisions take aim at withholding funds; some of the bill’s provisions increase funds for programs the Pentagon doesn’t want; and some provisions will be targeted for new cuts or increases when the bill comes to the floor.
The Taxpayers for Common Sense recently did an analysis of the committee report that accompanied the bill, and found it lacking.
“While there were a few things to cheer about in the Committee report, from the taxpayers’ perspective, we believe the House Appropriations Committee missed many opportunities to make some smart decisions, as well as some hard choices, about Pentagon spending,” according to TCS. “Because in a bill making up to $570 billion available to the Pentagon, there is plenty of room to trim wasteful spending. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it.”
One of the things TCS somewhat liked about the bill (under the circumstances specified) is its exclusion of funds for the A-10 Warthog plane, but that fight is sure to reemerge as an amendment this week. And the Senate version of the spending bill might restore the money, too, with both the House and Senate versions of the annual defense policy bill having already backed some A-10 funding.
The Los Angeles Times took aim at the $40 billion Ground-based Midcourse defense system in a lengthy and scathing article Sunday about the system’s failings. That puts the system in the spotlight at the exact moment when Congress would be in position to vote on its funding, but it’s more likely that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, led by missile defense skeptic Richard Durbin, D-Ill., would have a stronger chance of acting on something on this front.
Last week, too, allegations of Afghanistan waste came to the fore.
The Pentagon is doing its own work to reduce wasteful spending: Late last week, the department unveiled a new study aimed at waste in contracting.