The House has released the 2012 defense spending bill and it includes a little bit of belt tightening. But just barely, and not enough to please Democrats who say there should be significant cuts at the Pentagon to counter proposals to slash domestic spending.
The bill would provide $539 billion in total defense allocations for the 2012 fiscal year. That's just a hair below the president's FY 2012 request. Republicans lopped off $8.9 billion in spending, but even with those cuts, the total comes in $17 billion above this year's spending levels.
The spending includes $118.7 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq operations and $131 billion for military pay, including a 1.6 percent raise. Another large chunk of spending is dedicated to operation and maintenance, including readiness programs to prepare troops for combat and peace-time missions. The bill includes additional funds to research traumatic brain injury and mental health problems and $3.2 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles.
Cuts were made to procurement and research and development to the tune of $6.8 billion and $2.3 billion below the president's request, respectively.
"My long-standing commitment is that we will not adversely affect any soldier or have an adverse effect on our nation’s readiness," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said Tuesday. "It is a commitment I made and that I am keeping with this bill."
Rep. Norm Dicks, the ranking Democrat on House Appropriations, said he was pleased with the bill and called the GOP's budget numbers for defense "reasonable."