This week, the House of Representatives passed its Continuing Resolution (CR) which provides funding for primarily the Department of Defense until the end of this fiscal year. Congress missed the opportunity to reprogram cuts from sequestration or cut even further. It also failed to address sequestration’s serious impact on military readiness and defense capabilities.
The Heritage Foundation highlighted the key national security concerns for Congress in an assessment of the fiscal year (FY) 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Sadly, the CR largely fails in addressing these priorities.
The CR appropriates funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) at the President’s requested level of about $7.6 billion. While it is good that the appropriators did not further undermine essential funding for nuclear weapons modernization, the President violated his own commitment to the nuclear weapons program.
Obama certified during the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START) debate that he would request $7.9 billion for the NNSA weapons activities in FY 2013. This funding is essential to modernize U.S. aging nuclear infrastructure. The appropriators, however, mandate the Secretary of Defense to report any violations or inconsistent behavior of any of U.S. arms control treaty partners.
The CR limits the Administration’s ability to spend funds on providing Russia with sensitive missile defense information. That is a step in the right direction. The bill also funds the Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs at the Obama Administration’s requested level. This program has accomplished major successes in the past but presents an opportunity for the U.S. to condition the assistance it provides to other countries.
The bill provides $211 million for Israel’s air-defense system, the Iron Dome. The Iron Dome performed admirably during the most recent conflict in Israel and deserves the strong bipartisan support it enjoys.
The CR appropriates more than $149.7 million for other missile defense cooperation activities. It also prohibits appropriated funds to be used to share classified missile defense information with the Russian Federation.
It is also worth noting that funding levels included in the CR still anticipate that sequestration will take them to lower levels—in most cases by 7.8 percent. As Heritage’s Baker Spring notes, “[T]hese reductions, which come on top of reductions to the defense budget that are already being made, will not only make the U.S. less safe, it will make the world less safe.”