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Debt Hawk GOP Wants Big Boost For Pentagon Budget While Domestic Programs Are Slashed

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PENTAGON
AP

WASHINGTON -- As it considers steep cuts to domestic programs in an effort to slash the deficit, the House is set to consider a defense spending bill on Wednesday that increases the Pentagon's budget by $17 billion.

The Defense Department appropriations bill includes $530 in base Pentagon spending, which is $8 billion less than President Obama's request for fiscal year 2012. There's an additional $118.6 billion for overseas contingency operations -- a $39 billion drop, reflecting the expected drawdown in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans announced in May that they were going to try to cut $30 billion from federal agencies' operating budgets in order to deal with the growing deficit.

While the Pentagon isn't getting all the money the Obama administration would like it to receive, it's still in a significantly stronger position than many other government agencies. If the Pentagon gets its full $17 billion increase, that means that domestic agencies have to absorb $47 billion in cuts.

The Environmental Protection Agency and other natural resources programs, for example, face "a second round of $2 billion-plus cuts, which would bring total spending down by 15 percent from appropriations levels at the outset of this year," David Rogers at Politico noted. "Science and space agencies, together with the departments of Justice and Commerce, would be affected by cuts of $3.1 billion, an 11 percent reduction altogether from the amount the same programs were receiving before the April showdown."

Late last month, the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement saying it "strongly opposes a number of provisions" in the bill (H.R. 2219).

"If a bill is presented to the President that undermines his ability as Commander in Chief or includes ideological or political policy riders, the President's senior advisors would recommend a veto," the statement read.

The objectionable provisions include additional funds to buy a C-17 cargo plane that the Air Force did not request and restrictions on base closing. The administration also made clear that it "strongly objects to the provisions that limit the use of authorized funds to transfer detainees and otherwise restrict detainee transfers."

The defense spending bill is being considered under an open rule, which means that House members will be able to offer a slew of amendments, including one from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to defund the U.S. mission in Libya.

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