The Republican-controlled House overwhelming passed a two-year budget Thursday evening that offers some sequestration relief, provides a bit more stability to Defense Department planners, and averts the possibility of another government shutdown. The budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees, sets overall discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion in Fiscal 2014 and $1.014 trillion in Fiscal 2015. Defense discretionary spending is set at $520.5 billion. The budget also includes about $63 billion in sequester relief over the two years. “This agreement will stop Washington’s lurch from crisis to crisis. It will bring stability to the budget process and show both parties can work together,” said Ryan after the vote. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the budget “does not solve all of DOD’s budget problems,” but it does help the Defense Department address a decline in readiness by “putting more money back into training, in particular, and procurement.” Hagel said the predictability the budget gives planners is “particularly important.” The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week. (Hagel transcript)(Ryan statement)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.