An Overview of the us Defense Spending Bill

FY2013 Budget Request, Authorization and Appropriations was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, May 18, 2012. It was approved by a vote of 299-120. It still has to clear the U.S. Senate and be signed into law by President Barack Obama. This bill will cover military expenditure in fiscal year 2013.

The bottom line

The baseline military expenditures outlined in this budget total $554 billion. An extra $88.5 billion is earmarked for Overseas Contingency Operations, which includes counter-terrorism and ongoing military operations in Afghanistan. The previous military spending bill authorized $662 billion for military spending.

The total outlay of the bill exceeds the spending cap set by the Budget Control Act (2011) by $8 billion, without any offsets. This is $4 billion higher than the amount requested by President Obama. House amendments increased it from $3.1 billion at the committee level.

Military personnel

All military personnel will receive a 1.7% salary increase. The rate of troop discharge will be slowed, with a fiscal recommendation that at least 68,000 troops remain in Afghanistan through the end of 2014. This overrules President Obama’s intention to continue to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at a steady pace.


The fighter fleet will continue to change from F-16s to F-35s. Taiwan will receive 66 new F-16s in sale. They will be partly replaced by 29 F-35s. This counters the Pentagon’s plan to retire some aircraft and ships.

President Obama will also be unable to decommission nuclear weaponry under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) without proof acceptable to Congress that Russia has taken appropriate action under START I. The military funding bill also supports deploying tactical nuclear weapons to East Asia.


The spending bill effectively approves the indefinite detention of terror suspects. This continues in spite of concerns expressed by President Obama when he signed the previous military spending bill into law. A small coalition of Democrats and Republicans led by Adam Smith (D) and Justin Amash (R) argued unsuccessfully against government overreach in this area.


In its present form, this defense bill is extremely tough on Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Some of its terms may be modified in the Senate, especially those which bring additional costs to the budget. If no major changes are made, President Obama may veto the bill over its support of indefinite detention, its position on START, and its exceeding the spending cap. As it stands, the military is facing a potential $600 billion shortfall at the end of 2013, when the restrictions of the Budget Control Act on military spending are slated to start taking effect.