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“Modest reforms to pay and compensation will improve readiness and modernization. It will help keep our all-volunteer force sustainable and strong. Keeping faith also means investing sufficient resources so that we can uphold our sacred obligations to defend the nation and to send our sons and daughters to war with only the best training, leadership and equipment. We can’t shrink from our obligations to one another. The stakes are too high.”

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

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Thursday
Jun202013

Ignoring the Caps is Again the Story

The Senate today provided its discretionary allocations, which lets us compare the Senate to the House to the President's request. 

Everyone meets the unreduced BCA cap, and no one meets the reduced BCA cap.  That is, everyone assumes the sequester level funding will be done away with but everyone also thinks the non-sequester caps originally in the BCA are still binding.  No matter what you think happens with sequester, it seems there is a broad consensus that all funding, including defense, is constrained, and the BCA levels are acknowledged as authoritative.

But since everyone meets the cap, the differences are small enough estimating what each bill does can affect how they compare.  The authorizers accept DoD's estimates, but the appropriators rely on CBO.  And DoD and CBO disagree just a tad.  The note below explains more.

That said, Senate appropriators are providing just under what the President requested in base (-$0.7B), as well as a little less in OCO (-$2.7B). The House appropriators cut the President's base request more (-$5.3B), but plussed up OCO to balance it out (+$5.3B).  

All of which means, the total amount for DoD differs by only $3.5B from the highest, the President and House, to the lowest, the Senate.  That's only half a percent movement in the DoD topline, which seems pretty meaningless when everybody is 10% off the reduced cap numbers.  

Estimating note: CBO disagrees with how much will be saved in FY14 from the President's proposed changes in health care cost-sharing to a tune of $580 million.  Because of that, the various numbers move by half a billion dollars depending on whether you include it or not.  Furthermore, the appropriations defense bills include the Intelligence Community Management Account.  But DoD doesn't get that money (it goes straight to DNI), and so doesn't include it its topline.  The President requested $568M, though the House only provided $553B and the Senate number is still unknown.  Just those two estimating differences could swamp the policy differences between the three figures.

UPDATED 202020JUN13: to reflect more comparable OCO numbers.