WASHINGTON, July 31 A U.S. Senate subcommittee
approved legislation on Tuesday that continues funding for the
Pentagon's use of biofuels, a senator said, in a move pushing
back against critics trying to limit outlays on programs such as
the Navy's "Great Green Fleet."
Some biofuels funding was included in a $604 billion defense
spending bill for fiscal 2013 passed by the Senate's defense
appropriations subcommittee, the panel's chairman, Democratic
Senator Daniel Inouye, told reporters.
"I think we do have funding for that," Inouye said. He did
not give the amount, and committee aides said they could not
provide details before Thursday, when the defense spending bill
goes to the full appropriations committee for a vote.
A committee summary of the defense bill said it included
increases in the area of alternative energy but gave no details.
Critics say that at a time when the U.S. military faces
significant cuts, there is no room for Pentagon spending on
testing expensive biofuels even if -- as the Obama
administration says -- the goal is to curb reliance on foreign
In the recent "Green Fleet" exercise, a group of U.S.
warships and fighter jets burned an expensive blend of biofuels
and petroleum. The Navy paid over $26 per gallon for biofuel
made from renewable sources like algae and chicken fat.
In May, Republican critics of the biofuels plan pushed two
proposals to limit military spending on biofuels through the
Senate Armed Services Committee. House Republicans have also
moved to curb the funding.
But Tuesday's vote by the defense appropriations
subcommittee shows the biofuels critics may not have the last
word in Congress. Biofuels supporters already have said they
hope to alter the Armed Services committee's changes in action
on the floor of the Democrat-majority Senate.
The defense appropriations legislation for fiscal 2013 that
was approved by the committee also restored some other military
programs that the Obama administration sought to cut. But it
still came in $29 billion less than current defense spending,
primarily due to the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The legislation provides $511 billion for the Pentagon's
"base" budget and another $93.3 billion for the war in
Afghanistan for the fiscal year that begins on October 1.
It would restore $800 million that the administration had
sought to cut from the U.S. Air Force. The appropriations
subcommittee also reversed the Navy's proposal to prematurely
retire seven cruisers and two amphibious ships, the committee
summary of the legislation said.
Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican on the subcommittee,
said the bill included money for the final year of development
work on a joint ground-based missile defense program with Italy
"This would enable us to meet our obligations with our
European allies," Shelby said but did not reveal the amount.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had urged lawmakers to
include $400.9 million for the program, known as the Medium
Extended Air and Missile Defense System (MEADS) built by
Lockheed Martin Corp and its partners in Italy and