Wednesday, July 30, 2008

HAC-D Mark-up Today

Today at 11:00AM ET the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense will mark-up its FY 2009 Defense Appropriations bill.

If you remember our post in April, the FY09 budget has the Air Force request of $831.759 M for the "Next Generation Aerial Refueling Aircraft", which is a new budget item. (Source: pg 34, line #83 of FY09 RTD&E Programs Budget) There is also available in FY09 $239.8 M from the "Tanker Replacement Transfer Fund," which are funds remaining from FY05 and FY08 appropriations that went unspent.

Since the decision to recompete the contract, SecDef Gates had requested all FY2009 tanker funds be move to the Tanker Replacement Transfer Fund.

We will not opine as to what the Subcommittee will do in mark-up other to say that there should be active discussion on the amount tanker funding the Air Force needs given that the procurement has been delayed. Also, there may be some limitations placed on the tanker funding.

A limitation places a restriction on the expenditure of funds provided in an appropriations bill, either by setting a spending ceiling, or by prohibiting the use of funds for a specified purpose(s). Congress is not required to provide funds for every agency or purpose authorized by law. It may provide funds for some activities or projects under an agency, but not others. Precedents require that the language be phrased in the negative, for example, that none of the funds provided in this paragraph (typically an account) shall be used for a specified activity.(Source: Walter Kravitz, Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary: Third Edition, pp. 139-140)

Limitations included in the text of the legislation are legally binding; limitations provided only in the committee reports and managers’ statements are not legally binding, but are routinely followed.

At this point in the Tanker War nothing is routine, and language short of law will could very well be ignored by DoD. So, we expect the any tanker limitations to be in the legislation not just be report language.

Any cuts to or limitations placed on the tanker funding will be the first legislative action on the tanker issue since the GAO issued its decision. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense is not scheduled to mark-up their bill until September.


Anonymous said...

This whole procurement is in dire danger of going away completely.

Where once an arrangement to lease these aircraft from Boeing was going to occur, now there is already a program being pushed in Congress to privatize aerial refueling and subcontract the whole business out.

It all kinds of depends, I guess, on whether or not you believe that aerial refueling is an essential military function or not. The Navy has already done some limited privatization of refueling services:

Now Congress wants a bigger test.

Both Presidential candidates are already taking shots at military procurement, beginning with the program to replace Marine One.
McCain is always looking for high priced government contracts to cut back upon. With the domestic promises he has made, Obama will HAVE to cut back on something else if elected. A contentious, long-delayed and expensive tanker procurement program that could potentially be privatized would appear to be a promising prospect for reprogramming ... perhaps to allow FEMA to continue to support the poor Katrina victims who are still not taking responsibility for their own decision to live in a city below sea level in the path of hurricanes.....

Anonymous said...

In the interim, it appears that Donley's nomination is also being held hostage to this process. Curiouser and curiouser.....

But Cantwell said she is not convinced that the Pentagon will conduct a "fair rebid" on the tanker contract that addresses all of the problems found by GAO.
In addition, Cantwell told Gates that she is "concerned that the leadership of the Air Force and [Defense Department] have not fully considered serious national security issues, including several classified matter that I was briefed on by the intelligence community," Cantwell wrote.
The issues, she added, "raise troubling questions that are much broader than the selection of a new tanker."
Cantwell's hold on Donley's nomination will continue "until such time that I feel the Air Force and DOD have adequately addressed all these issues," she wrote.
Cantwell, who is not a member of the Senate Armed Services panel, has no authority to keep Donley's nomination bottled up in committee. But she can tie up a floor vote on the nomination indefinitely.