WASHINGTON May 19 The annual defense policy
bill making its way through the House of Representatives could
force the Pentagon to maintain a bigger military than it can
afford at a time of shrinking budgets, the White House said on
Monday, warning that a veto was possible.
The Office of Management and Budget, in a statement of
administration policy, said the National Defense Authorization
Act approved by the House Armed Services Committee had
eliminated $50 billion in savings over five years that the
Pentagon had proposed in its 2015 budget.
"The bill does not include meaningful compensation reforms
and other cost saving measures, rejects many of the department's
proposed force structure changes and restricts DOD's ability to
manage its weapons systems and infrastructure," it said.
The statement said if the final bill presented to President
Barack Obama prevents him from being able to properly direct the
Pentagon's scarce resources, his senior advisers would recommend
that he veto the legislation.
The White House released the statement as lawmakers in the
Republican-led chamber are preparing to bring the bill to the
floor for a debate, possibly as early as this week. The
Democratic-controlled Senate also is beginning work on its
version of the legislation this week.
The measure approved by the House Armed Services Committee
would block the Pentagon from implementing many proposals it
made to cut costs as it tries to implement nearly $1 trillion in
congressionally mandated reductions to planned spending over a
In order to achieve the cuts while still having funds for
training, maintenance and priority arms purchases, the Pentagon
proposed slowing the rate of growth in military compensation,
retiring the fleet of A-10 Warthog aircraft and other measures.
The House panel rejected the Pentagon's plan to increase
military pay by only 1 percent, approving 1.8 percent instead.
It also blocked proposals to reduce the cost of housing
allowances, commissary operations and healthcare for retirees.
The White House said the compensation reforms originally
proposed in the president's budget would save $2 billion in the
2015 fiscal year, which begins in October, and $31 billion
through the 2019 fiscal year.
The House panel also rejected the military's proposal to
retire the entire fleet A-10 Warthog close-air support planes,
which are popular among ground forces. The White House said
retiring the planes would save $4.2 billion through 2019.
It also objected to efforts to block the retirement of other
"These divestitures are critical and would free up funding
for higher priority programs," the OMB statement said.
The White House protested a House effort to force the
Pentagon to begin planning the midlife overhaul and refueling of
the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. Pentagon officials
had considered delaying the overhaul or taking the ship out of
service because of budget constraints.
The OMB said it was unwise to force the department to begin
planning the overhaul when it was unclear whether money would be
available to complete the task.
(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Matthew Lewis)