The Budget Topline and Long Term Choices

House legislators pressed Defense Department leaders Thursday to clarify the department’s actual “top line” in its Fiscal 2015 budget request. The proposal requests $495.6 billion, but that number does not reflect an additional request for some $26 billion from the so-called Opportunity Security and Growth Initiative, which officials hope to use to buy back some modernization and readiness accounts, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told members of the House Armed Services Committee. In addition, the 2015 budget follows the caps agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act last December, but asks for $115 billion above sequester caps in the President’s five-year Future Years Defense Plan. Hagel noted DOD did not get any adjustment in its numbers until the BBA was passed in December, and rather than planning for a whole new FYDP, the department decided to take some cuts now and defer others for later. “That’s why the President has asked for $115 billion more, over the (FYDP),” Hagel said. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale added that the five-year plan shows a gap because of sequester-related uncertainty. “If Congress appropriates at a higher level, we will fix the plans,” he said.