House Passes Defense Policy Bill

The House last week approved, H.R. 4310, its version of the Fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, by a vote of 299 to 120. The legislation provides $554 billion for base national defense activities and $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations like the war in Afghanistan. “This bill mandates fiscal responsibility within the Department of Defense” and “also postures our armed forces for potential future threats,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), HASC chairman, in a release following the bill’s May 18 passage. He also noted that lawmakers, on a bipartisan basis, “kept faith with our all-volunteer military, shielding our troops and veterans from inflated health care and retirement fees.” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), HASC ranking member, said in a statement he supported the bill overall, but was “troubled” by language that envisions “a large and extended combat mission” in Afghanistan and is “overly confrontational” towards nations like China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Further, “I am concerned the bill supports an overall defense budget that is roughly $8 billion over the Budget Control Act,” said Smith. The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the bill starting on May 22.