Some Technical Comments on the 2012 DOD Appropriations Bill
The House Appropriations Committee has reported the bill and text for HR 2219, the 2012 DOD appropriations bill, that handles most, but not all, of the appropriations for DOD and for DOD expenses in Afghanistan and elsewhere (Title IX). Find the bill and report, as actually reported -- not the pre-mark up versions distributed by the HAC -- at the Thomas site for HR 2219 at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp112:FLD010:@1(hr110
There are some elements to the bill that the HAC forgot to emphasize in its press releases and that the press has paid little to no attention to.
For example, I found the following to be interesting:
There are a pile of earmarks in the bill. Some are sprinkled through the R&D section of the bill. Find them in the tables that start for Army R&D on p. 211. For example, there, see the +$20 million for "University and Industry Research Centers," which is explained in the report only slightly on p. 218 as for "Historically Black Colleges and Universities." Continue through with the tables for the other services, etc., and you will find more.
There are a pile of earmarks in the Defense Health Program accounts; see the $523.5 million added to DHP; the projects are listed on p. 259. Along with the perennial earmarks for breast and prostate cancer, there are many more. Some but certainly not all of them are explained, very briefly, in the text that follows starting on p. 260.
There is a gigantic $1.5 billion earmark for unrequested National Guard equipment in Title IX. Page 311 explains how the reserve components are to carve up the money, and the committee gives DOD some oh so helpful suggestions on just what equipment to spend the money on, such as "Generation 4 Advanced Targeting Pods, Reduced Size Crashworthy External and Extended Range Fuel Systems (RCEFS) for Apaches and Chinooks, civil support radios, lightweight airborne recovery systems, simulation training systems, tactical radios, tactical trailers, and field engineering, logistics, and maintenance equipment." These "suggestions" are typically written by interested members who have been contacted by the interested state adjutant generals and other reserve component officials behind the back of OSD. The AGs will know how to get their equipment when the bill is enacted, with accompanying report language.
But of course there are no earmarks in this bill. We are assured of that on p. 338: "EARMARK DISCLOSURE STATEMENT
Neither the bill nor the report contains any Congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9 of rule XXI." "As defined in clause 9 of rule XXI" explains how they can say that.
The HAC made large, across the board cuts in O&M ($501.8 million), Procurement ($484.8 million) and R&D ($323.5 million) explained as "revised economic assumptions" (p. 330). See section 8122 of the bill. Except to say that "such reductions [are] to be applied on a proportionate basis" (I.e. across the boards), there is no further explanation. In the past these cuts have been explained to a selected few as based on revised estimates of inflation and sometimes foreign currency exchange rates. In the past, the claim has been made they are based on CBO data, but CBO was not asked to make any calculations. Also in the past, these arbitrary reductions are spoon fed to the HAC (and SAC) by the DOD Comptroller, or they are simply cooked up by the HAC (or SAC) staff. These would make an excellent subject for a floor colloquy: What is the subject area: inflation? What is the analysis? Who's analysis is this? Got a copy of that analysis? DOD's and Congress' misuse of inflation data and analysis is a long and sad (and crooked) story. Find an analysis at http://www.cdi.org/friendlyversion/printversion.cfm?documentID=4663
Section 8122 provides another add-on/earmark for a $300 million transfer to the Dept. of Education; that's the perennial "impact aid" for school kids of military personnel. Dept. of Education, and lots of others, find it convenient to float this expense in the DOD budget.
There's more; seek and you shall find.
Winslow T. Wheeler
Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information