Billion here, billion there . . . .

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  1. billwald

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    Jun 28, 2000
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    Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
    May 9, 2012
    Pg. 1

    Dicks Calls Approps Bill 'Slap' On Air Force Wrist

    Lawmakers are supremely unhappy with the Air Force's defense of its fiscal 2013 budget
    request, and it was on display May 8 after the House Appropriations defense subcommittee
    approved its bill.

    The $607.7 billion bill pauses the Air Force's request to retire and reassign aircraft
    for the Air National Guard and Reserve until Congress and the Government Accountability
    Office review the service's analysis. The bill also provides $278 million to maintain
    Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft, which the Air Force had recommended

    "The Air Force got a real slap on the wrist here today," says Rep. Norm Dicks
    (Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. "Our
    committee is not real happy about how the Air Force handled these issues."

    Panel Chairman Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) maintains that Congress is not "at
    odds" with the Air Force, but says service officials have not convinced lawmakers to
    support the Global Hawk and Air Guard decisions. "What we're trying to do is get
    some realistic answers why they think these aircraft are not important to our

    On Global Hawk, Young says one year ago the high-altitude surveillance aircraft was one
    of the Air Force's most important issues. "Something happened to change their
    mind," Young said of the Air Force. Despite the Air Force's argument that the
    service would save $2.5 billion by continuing to operate the U2 spy aircraft, that did
    not satisfy Young and other lawmakers.

    "We think the AF was right last year, and we think maybe they haven't explained why
    they changed their mind this year," Young says.

    Regardless, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says sticking with the Global Hawk is a
    forward-looking decision to use a more capable aircraft. If the problem is with the
    Global Hawk's optics, those can be installed on the unmanned vehicle, he says.

    Although the full details of the defense spending bill have not yet been released, many
    of the decisions track closely with a bill the House Armed Services Committee will
    consider May 9.

    That is why Dicks is expressing confidence that the bill will have "smooth
    sailing" in the full appropriations committee. The committee is expected to consider
    the bill May 17.

    Even though President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the spending bill governing
    NASA because it exceeds the budget caps outlined last year by the Budget Control Act, and
    this bill is more than $3 billion higher than the spending cap, Dicks waives away
    questions about whether the top line of the defense bill will hold up consideration of
    the bill.

    "We're talking about - just - a few billion here and a few billion there. ... In the
    context of the defense bill, these are not big differences between the House and the
    Senate," Dicks says. "It'll work out."

    - Jen DiMascio

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