Defense funding nears end-game

Monday - 6/13/2011, 9:08am EDT

Jim McAleese, McAleese & Associates

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

During his confirmation hearings, Defense Secretary nominee Leon Panetta told lawmakers that the days of booming growth and unlimited defense budgets are over. The Obama Administration has crafted a proposal that trims $4 trillion from the deficit, and the Defense Comptroller says that the current federal deficit is unsustainable.

Defense contracting expert and McAleese and Associates founder Jim McAleese told Federal News Radio he would anticipate a focus on three issues this week as predictors of future defense funding:

  • What congress is going to do with respect to the 2012 budget request that DoD has on the Hill.
  • Developments from Panetta's Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing last Thursday. "I felt that was particularly timely and particularly important."
  • Developments at the White House this week with respect to the Afghanistan force structure review.

What to watch for on the Hill on the 2012 DoD budget request:

  • Look for details to emerge on the House Appropriations Committee on Defense (HAC-D) markup, cutting $9 billion from the requested $553 billion 2012 base. "What was surprising is that this is the first time the congressional staff, particularly the contractor supportive HAC-D members and staff allocated almost all of those cuts to the modernization accounts."

  • Tomorrow, the full HAC markup of the 2012 Defense Appropriations bill.

  • The SASC begins markups of 2011 Defense Authorization bill, including "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and force structure issues.

  • Wednesday, SAC-D (Senate Appropriations Committee for Defense) will "be having a particularly important hearing on the 2012 budget request." McAleese said to watch for Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen to testify, "and hopefully try to be able to make sure that $9 billion cut to the 2012 budget request doesn't actually become bigger."

Overall, watch for the House, said McAleese, to cut the Defense budget as part of "reasonable approach" to trim overall federal spending. In addition, all eyes are on Gates and Panetta "as to how they're going to implement the $400 billion dollar reduction from 2012 through 2023."

For more, listen to the entire interview using the player at the top of this page.