Winners and losers of the 2014 defense appropriations bill

U.S. Navy/ Chris Thamann

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Valions” of Strike Fighter Squadron One Five (VFA-15), prepares for launch aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

Article Highlights

  • 2014 appropriations essentially keep military spending flat from last year

    Tweet This

  • Investment in the future continues to take a disproportionate hit

    Tweet This

  • Who were the defense winners and losers of the 2014 appropriations bills?

    Tweet This

Inside the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill is a defense appropriations bill for 2014. While it blunts the impact of full sequestration by providing extra cash for the Pentagon, it essentially keeps military spending flat from the previous year.

Given that President Obama’s budget request for 2014 ignored sequestration, Congress is in the driver’s seat. Appropriators have made the decisions about where the roughly $30 billion in defense rescissions should occur. While the services all weighed in, it should be clear to Pentagon leaders now that submitting a budget that opposed reality was simply not smart.

Highlights from the defense bill include:

  • Overturning the Navy’s plans for the early retirement of nine ships, including 7 cruisers;
  • Forcing the Air Force to retain Global Hawk block 30 drones;
  • Requiring a report on NSA phone records and any terrorist activity that was disrupted as a result;
  • Providing additional funds for the expansion of a Special Victims’ Counsel program for sexual assault victims across the Department; and,
  • Directing the Secretary of Defense to essentially avoid furloughing civilians at all costs in the coming year regardless of the budget squeeze.
There are clear winners and losers in modernization plans for 2014. The Army is taking a big hit with its equipment spending down over 12 percent from last year. Army research and development is also down significantly. Two relative bright spots for the Army include aviation and the Stryker dual-use vehicle. While funding is down slightly for Army aviation, light utility helicopters received increased funding; Apache attack helicopters are fully funded; and Blackhawks for the National Guard were approved for their multi-year request. Meanwhile, the Kiowa program took a hit, which makes sense since the Army intends to retire the entire fleet. Finally, the MQ-1 Gray Eagle drone program saw a cut.

While Navy procurement spending is essentially static from last year, Congress added over $1 billion in new shipbuilding money. The biggest beneficiary as a result is the Virginia-class submarine program. Congress also approved advanced funding for 22 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for the Navy while cutting the EA-18G Growler program, the UH-1Y helicopter, the P-8A Poseidon, and the KC-130J tanker aircraft among others. Appropriators plussed up the Navy’s EP-3 spy aircraft program, along with the Navy’s “special project” aircraft program. Members are worried Navy leaders will seek to retire destroyers early as it has proposed with Ticonderoga-class cruisers and directs the Navy to modernize older Arleigh Burkes first.

Aircraft spending across the services is down. The Air Force is absorbing another large reduction to its procurement account. Congress cut over half a billion in Joint Strike Fighter program funding, including for the Marine Corps’ STOVL variant. The Air Force is directed to purchase an additional eight MQ-9 Reaper drones above the President’s request for 12. Funding for modernization of the bomber fleet, F-22s, C-17s and C-5s are all down slightly. The C-130 program will grow significantly above the President’s request in 2014 for engine and propeller upgrades.

Finally, Congress rescinded $2 billion in unused prior-year funding. This has been a favorite pot of money for Pentagon leaders to draw upon in order to blunt the impact of defense budget cuts on equipment in particular over the past year.

Full sequestration was avoided, and Pentagon leaders say they intend to spend the money that was given back in the next budget year of 2015 on readiness. But even that will not be spared entirely given that the Defense Department is still seeing funding far below what its leaders would have preferred.

Investment in the future continues to take a disproportionate hit as part of the defense build-down. Since the 2015 budget request will be delayed about a month, this should give officials plenty of time to revisit current plans. Congress should hope Pentagon leaders seek to double down on efforts to tackle the Department of Defense’s so-called “Fourth Estate,” the size of the civilian workforce, compensation reform and need to shed excess infrastructure so as to avoid even more reductions to long overdue modernization plans of all the Armed Forces.

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Mackenzie
Eaglen

What's new on AEI

Making Ryan's tax plan smarter
image The teacher evaluation confronts the future
image How to reform the US immigration system
image Inversion hysteria
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 01
    MON
  • 02
    TUE
  • 03
    WED
  • 04
    THU
  • 05
    FRI
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
From anarchy to Augustus: Lessons on dealing with disorder, from Rome’s first emperor

We invite you to join us for two panel discussions on how Augustus created order from chaos 2,000 years ago, and what makes for durable domestic and international political systems in the 21st century.

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Multiple choice: Expanding opportunity through innovation in K–12 education

Please join us for a book launch event and panel discussion about how a marketplace of education options can help today's students succeed in tomorrow's economy. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the featured book.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
How conservatives can save the safety net

Please join us for a luncheon event in which our panel will discuss what conservatives can learn from how liberals talk and think about the safety net and where free-market economics, federalism, and social responsibility intersect to lift people out of poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.