$460-billion defense budget moves toward House approval

Published August 5, 2007

WASHINGTON - The House was poised Saturday to pass modest changes to President Bush's record Pentagon budget plan, but majority Democrats were likely to hold their fire on Iraq policy until Congress returns in September.

The House's $459.6-billion version of the defense budget would add money for equipment for National Guard and Reserve, provide for 12,000 additional soldiers and Marines and award increases for defense health care and military housing.

The White House criticized Democrats for cutting Bush's request for readiness and personnel accounts and effectively transferring $3.5-billion of the money to domestic spending programs. It is likely that the cuts will be restored this fall when Congress passes another wartime supplemental spending bill that probably will exceed Bush's $147-billion request.

But the administration has not threatened to veto the measure.

The measure does not include Bush's 2008 funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats say they want to consider that money in separate legislation in September, after their vacation. This approach would set the stage for a major clash over the war; Democrats are likely to try to impose conditions on the money.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a top point man on military matters for Democrats, said last week that he backs only short-term extensions of war spending.

The significant defense measure represents a nearly $40-billion increase over current levels. The Pentagon would get another several-billion-dollar budget increase through a companion measure covering military base construction and a recent round of base closures.

The defense legislation largely endorses Bush's plans for major weapons systems such as the next generation Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, which has been beset by cost overruns.

Fast Facts:

By the numbers

Highlights of a $459.6-billion Pentagon spending bill under consideration by the House on Saturday:

$3.5-billion less than requested by President Bush

$105-billion in personnel costs

$137.1-billion for operations and maintenance

$99.6-billion to procure weapons systems

$76.2-billion for research, development and testing

$2.2-billion to provide a 3.5 percent pay raise for military personnel

$6-billion for 7,000 additional Army soldiers and 5,000 Marines

$23-billion for health care costs of the military and Pentagon employees

$8.5-billion for ballistic missile defense

$3.2-billion for the Army's next generation Future Combat system