Obama Signs Omnibus into Law

President Obama signed the $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill into law last week, providing fiscal stability to the Defense Department and other government agencies while mitigating some of sequestration’s devastating impacts—at least for the next two years. Obama said the massive spending bill will help ease some of the “self-inflicted wounds in this town,” such as the “mindless sequester,” which he said has “impeded [economic] growth.” For defense, the omnibus provides $487 billion in base defense funding and $85 billion for overseas contingency operations. However, it reduces DOD’s operations and maintenance funding by some $9 billion this year, said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin [D-Mich.], who also noted that the cuts, though steep, are “less than we feared would be the case.” The omnibus also addresses other important defense issues, such as sexual assaults in the military, the implementation of New START, and it amends the controversial cost-of-living-adjustment change included in the budget agreement, exempting medical retirees and survivor benefit plan annuitants from the planned one percent cut to military pension plans. Levin once again stated that the SASC “will be holding hearings to review this issue” further. “While I have concerns about a few specific provisions, I believe that this is a good defense appropriations bill and one that deserves our support,” said Levin in a Jan. 16 floor statement. (White House video)(Levin statement)