The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee proposed a measure to finance the federal government through September that would include new money for the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said today that while a stopgap measure would extend current funding levels for most government agencies, his plan would give the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs more leeway to decide how to spend their money.
The Pentagon currently is prohibited from moving money between accounts under the measure funding government operations, known as a continuing resolution, and can’t start new programs or enter into multiyear contracts. As a result, the Pentagon has reported funding shortfalls for its operations, Rogers said. The new measure would alleviate that, he said.
“It’s to take off that straitjacket, to give them flexibility,” the congressman told reporters in Washington.
Congress passed a stopgap spending measure for the first six months of the 2013 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, because none of the annual appropriations bills that fund federal agencies was adopted. That measure expires March 27.
Legislation to fund the government until Sept. 30 will include a defense appropriations bill negotiated by the House and Senate, which will set the Pentagon’s base budget at $518 billion, Rogers said.
Under his proposal the funding measure, including the defense bill, would set the spending cap at $1.043 trillion.
House leaders have been considering a stopgap funding measure for the rest of the fiscal year that could reduce spending levels below $1 trillion.
That measure would fund the government at about $974 billion, Representative James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, said in an interview Feb. 4. The spending levels would be lower because House Republicans are working under the expectation that automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, will take effect on March 1.
Whether Rogers’s proposal will come to a vote has yet to be determined as many House Republicans, including Tea Party-backed members, want to see the full spending cuts kick in.