The Defense bill provided $530 billion for Defense Department programs in 2012. In addition, the measure provided $119 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) urged support for the Defense bill: “The base budget of this bill is $530 billion, which is $9 billion below the President's budget request [the level of Defense Department funding requested by President Obama]. It was not easy to find the savings, but we were determined to find those savings without having any adverse effect on the warfighter or the readiness of our nation….It's a good bill. I wish it had more money in it for certain areas. I would like to have seen a much larger pay raise [for soldiers]. We provided the necessary funding for the 1.6 percent pay raise for the military…but we just had to find that $9 billion. The staff had to work extremely hard to make sure that we did not have an adverse effect on any of our soldiers or our overall readiness.”
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) also supported the bill: “I am happy to report that the bill provides the funds necessary to support our troops both at home and in the field. It also makes the investment in research and development and acquisition needed to fully equip our troops and maintain our Nation's technological edge. Within the funds provided, and after careful review, the committee exercised its constitutional responsibility to allocate resources to those programs that best support the requirements of our military forces. In writing this bill, the committee had to make hard choices. The allocation for this bill is $530 billion, $9 billion below the request. While this is $17 billion above the fiscal year 2011-enacted level, much of the increase is absorbed by the military pay, operation and maintenance, and the Defense Health Program accounts….”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) opposed the bill, arguing that Congress should no longer fund continuing combat operations in Afghanistan: “As we spend over $2 billion a week on this decade-long war [in Afghanistan], critical programs--like programs for women and children, nutrition programs, food stamps and Medicare--are on the chopping block. So enough is enough. There is no military solution in Afghanistan. And in a world where terrorism can emanate from the tribal regions of Yemen or a hotel room in Germany, we cannot adequately address these challenges through a military-first, boots-on-the-ground strategy. It is clear that occupying states and nation-building does not make for effective counterterrorism, and the financial and human costs of continuing this war are indefensible. With over 1,600 troops killed and tens of thousands more seriously wounded in Afghanistan, the human toll continues to mount each and every day. So we need to bring our troops home and use the savings for our economic challenges here at home, especially for job creation.”
The House passed this bill by a vote of 336-87. Voting “yea” were 224 Republicans and 112 Democrats. 75 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 12 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation that would provide annual funding for Defense Department programs in fiscal year 2012. In order for this bill to become law, however, it would need to pass the Senate. The Senate was expected to pass its own Defense Department funding bill. Following Senate passage, House and Senate leaders could begin negotiations to reconcile the differences between the two Defense bills.