The House Committee on Armed Services revealed an outline of its defense budget proposal on Monday. The contents of the plan set up a possible stalemate with the Senate and President Donald Trump.

The proposal trims $17 billion from the $750 billion Trump requested for defense. The Senate defense bill sits right at $750 billion.

I have a feeling the portion that does not allow any Pentagon funding towards a border wall will cause the most problems with Trump.

The Wall

The proposal does not allow Pentagon funding to go towards a wall built with any material. From The Washington Times:

The House defense authorization bill proposes over 1,000 policy provisions, including a “blanket prohibition” on border wall spending from the services’ military construction and other Pentagon accounts. House lawmakers also included a measure that blocks the Trump administration from moving defense dollars dedicated to counternarcotics operations to wall construction.

In the Senate’s version, $3.6 billion of the overseas contingency funds would be available for construction projects along the southern border — well below the $8.6 billion Mr. Trump requested in his initial budget proposal in March. The differing figures for one of Mr. Trump’s signature priorities could portend another government showdown over wall financing.

A committee staffer said that the Democrats on the committee “feel strongly that Department of Defense money should not be used for border security.”

Nuclear Weapons

When it comes to nuclear weapons, the House proposal demands an “independent study on the United States adopting a ‘no first use’ policy.” America’s policy concerning nuclear weapons “leaves open the possibility of being the first” to use one in conflict.

Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) has made it known in his career that he hates nuclear weapons as “he has questioned the need for the nuclear triad, said he wants to ‘kill’ the low-yield warhead and blasted Trump for casting aside nuclear treaties.” From The Hill:

Nuclear issues are shaping up to be among the most contentious issues as Congress debates this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with Republicans already coming out strongly against what’s in the bill.

The bill, a summary of which was released Monday morning, does not go as far as Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has opined about in the past. But it does seek to “start that debate” about the appropriate size and cost of the nuclear arsenal, staffers told reporters ahead of the bill’s release.

“The chairman feels strongly that the nuclear arsenal is too large, that we spend too much money on legacy weapons systems when we have emerging requirements like cyber, like [artificial intelligence], like space, which aren’t getting the kind of focus that’s required, and he wants to reevaluate where we’re spending money, if we’re going to have another money to spend on these emerging things that are coming out,” a staffer said.

Space Force

The House proposal does not mention Trump’s Space Force since “committee members could not come to an agreement on the issue.” More than likely amendments for Space Force will come up on Wednesday when the committee debates the bill:

Later Monday morning, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told reporters Democrats and Republicans worked out an amendment that will be offered during Wednesday’s debate. The amendment closely follows the committee’s 2017 proposal for a space corps, he added.

“This is not President Trump’s idea,” Smith said. “I hope Democrats understand that of the many, many, many bad ideas that this president has had and the many bad things that he has done and the many ways that we should challenge him — don’t think of this as, well, if you’re for the Space Force that means you 100 percent support President Trump.”

Trump wants to create “a Space Forces within the Department of the Air Force.” Smith backs the idea of a Space Force, but lacks confidence in the Air Force to handle it since the branch “have mucked” up space “in a variety of different ways.”

How Will Republicans Vote?

Republicans on the Democrat-led committee have not decided how they will vote on the bill. Ranking member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) told The Washington Examiner that “the proposal fails to meet today’s national security needs.” But if Congress cannot agree on an overall budget, which includes a defense budget, the defense budget will default to the Budget Control Act of 2011:

“Those caps forced the Pentagon into unwise choices, deferring needed training, maintenance, and modernization,” Thornberry said. “These choices contributed to a lethal readiness crisis we are only now arresting. I am concerned that by imposing another insufficient and arbitrary topline, the chairman’s mark is forcing those unwise choices once again.”

The Budget Control Act of 2011 “reinstates budget caps for a 10-year period ending in FY 2021 with separate caps for the defense and nondefense parts of the discretionary budget.” When it comes to defense, “the budget caps represent a reduction of roughly $1 trillion over 10 years compared to what the president had proposed in his FY 2012 budget request earlier in 2011.”

I understand Thornberry’s frustration with the Pentagon. I have blogged before about the horrible auditing within the Pentagon, including losing track of hundreds of millions of dollars in February 2018.

In 2016, the Department of Defense inspector general discovered that the Pentagon could not maintain proper bookkeeping of expenses. That meant the Pentagon could not pass a $6.5 trillion audit they spent on wars, equipment, etc.

A few months later in 2016, the Pentagon hid a study that exposed $125 billion in waste.

 
 
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