WASHINGTON- Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon today sent a letter to the Pentagon, responding to statements made by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at a press briefing yesterday. Secretary Panetta was criticizing elements of the FY 13 National Defense Authorization Act, a bi-partisan measure that passed the House Armed Services Committee by a vote of 56-5.
The letter, which is available here (link) defends key provisions and funding levels against inaccurate assertions made by the Secretary of Defense. In his letter, McKeon said:
..."Your criticism, that our funding is in excess of the caps prescribed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), is surprising to me. As you and I have discussed, and as you testified to my committee, those caps take the Defense Department right to the razor’s edge. They cut through any fat that may have existed in the defense budget and into the muscle. In fact, contrary to your assertion yesterday, in proposing a defense budget that exceeds the BCA caps, the President himself acknowledges the BCA caps are too low to meet the core needs of the new defense strategy, much less address any of the vulnerabilities inherent in that strategy. The $4 billion in funding that my committee restored is applied to address precisely those vulnerabilities. Moreover, the total authorized funding is consistent with the House-passed fiscal year 2013 budget, which actually reduces discretionary federal spending below the caps established by the BCA.
Before I address those vulnerabilities let me touch on one theme that you often repeated in your press conference. You asserted that every dollar added to the defense authorization will come at the expense of another critical national security program. This is false. In crafting the budget, House Republicans were careful to identify other non-defense budget sources to accommodate the needed increase in national security accounts while complying with the overall BCA budget targets. Moreover, the House Armed Services Committee strictly adhered to several principles in putting together this legislation. First, there are no earmarks in this bill. Second, as Chairman, I did not allowed members to “tuck” pet projects into larger accounts that would force you to make the tradeoffs to which you referred. Wherever we have restored programs, platforms, or activities, we have also restored the manpower and operation and maintenance funding needed to sustain them. We understand that adding hollow force structure for pet projects was a very real problem when you served in Congress. I am happy to tell you that at least on this committee, things have changed since then." ...