Administration supports the FY 2003 Department of Defense Appropriations
Bill as reported by the House Committee. The Committee bill appropriately
funds many of the major requirements needed to keep America secure,
to transform U.S. defense capabilities, and to maintain the quality
of life of our armed forces. For example, the bill fully funds the
military pay raise of 4.1 percent as the President requested, and
funds a number of key programs critical to the President's goal of
transforming U.S. military capabilities, including Trident submarine
conversions, unmanned aerial vehicles, and missile defense.
Administration also applauds the House Committee for reporting a
bill consistent with fiscal discipline and restraint on overall
government spending, which are critical to the Nation's ability
to provide needed resources for national defense and homeland security
and a fiscal environment that encourages continued economic growth
and a quick return to budget balance. The President supports a discretionary
spending total of $749.1 billion and a $10.0 billion reserve for
the war on terrorism, in accordance with the House-passed Budget
Resolution, and appropriations consistent with the President's request
for defense and homeland security activities to support the war
on terrorism and increased national homeland security efforts. The
Committee's actions strongly endorse these principles.
Administration commends the Committee's decision to terminate the
Army's Crusader program and in general re-allocate resources along
the lines of the Administration's recent budget amendment. The Administration
urges, however, the House to remove restrictions on the President's
flexibility to manage the termination and follow-on essential to
Committee includes a reduction of almost $3 billion to Operation
and Maintenance programs, including a $1.6 billion cut to critical
readiness programs based on the assumption that savings can be achieved
in working capital funds, foreign currency fluctuations, and other
programs. These savings may not materialize, and thus may force
real reductions in military readiness. Requested funding for readiness
programs is needed at this critical time to ensure U.S. military
forces are able to meet the critical challenges of the war against
the Administration appreciates the support for improved benefits
and services to our Nation's military personnel, it is concerned
about significant reductions to the Military Personnel programs.
These reductions are unwarranted at a time when personnel resources
are strained by high deployments associated with the Global War
Committee's support for the President's missile defense program
is welcome. However, the Administration urges the House to restore
funding for Sea-Based Terminal Defense and the Airborne Laser. Both
of these programs are important components of the President's carefully
balanced effort to develop a layered missile defense system to defend
the American people, our deployed forces, and our friends and allies
against a proliferating missile threat.
Committee's bill includes a provision that would prohibit the Secretary
of Defense from annually ensuring that military retirees choose
between DoD and VA for health care. This provision runs counter
to the President's CHOICE initiative to better coordinate DoD and
VA services. This CHOICE initiative would enhance continuity of
care, while optimizing resources by preventing duplication of benefits.
In addition, the Administration is concerned about reductions made
to the Defense Health Program, which could affect the availability
or quality of care.
Administration has concerns with Section 8007 of the Act, which
prohibits use of funds to initiate a special access program until
30 calendar days of congressional session have elapsed after the
executive branch has notified Congress. Although 30-day advance
notice can be provided in most situations as a matter of comity,
situations may arise, especially in wartime, in which the President
must promptly establish special access controls on classified national
security information under his constitutional grants of the executive
power and authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
8066 of the Act provides that no DoD funds may be used to transfer
defense articles or services to another nation or international
organization for certain purposes, until 15 days after the executive
branch notifies Congress. To the extent that protection of U.S.
Armed Forces deployed for those purposes might require action of
a kind covered by section 8066 sooner that 15 days after notification,
the President may need to proceed under his constitutional authority
as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in a fashion more timely
than Section 8066 contemplates.