Senator Sanders Proposes Emergency VA Authorization

In response to the recent VA scandal and hospital backlogs, Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has proposed legislation that would address the situation and authorize additional funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). Congressional Quarterly's (subscription required) Alan Ota explains:

Another Example of Abusing the War Spending Label

President Obama yesterday announced $1 billion for a European Reassurance Initiative to step up U.S. presence and planning in Central and Eastern Europe partially in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine. The idea itself may have merit, but what certainly does not is the source of the funding: war spending.

President Obama Announces Path of Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan

President Obama announced yesterday the number of troops that would be remaining in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year. While these levels are not final until the Afghan government agrees, they show the most likely way forward for U.S. military involvement in the country.

Mulvaney Amendment Would Limit OCO Gimmick

Strict limits on discretionary spending have made it difficult for policymakers to fund everything they want. Yet instead of making hard choices and cutting low-priority spending, policymakers have sometimes turned to gimmicks to allow them to accomodate the spending caps while not actually cutting spending. Reps.

House Defense Bill Draws Potential Veto

The White House issued a statement Monday saying that the President's senior advisers would recommend vetoing H.R. 4435, the annual defense authorization bill reported by the House Armed Services Committee because it rejected meaningful reforms and ignored more than $50 billion in savings outlined by the Pentagon in its FY 2015 budget. 

Appropriators Must Stay Within Spending Caps Without Gimmicks

As the Senate Appropriations Committee makes its 302(b) allocations, divvying up funding among the 12 appropriations bills, it will have to deal with an unpleasant surprise from CBO's latest baseline: lower estimated Federal Housing Administration receipts.

MY VIEW: Maya MacGuineas

Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, wrote a commentary that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Washington Wire. It is reposted here.

House Defense Budget Rejects Pentagon Suggestions

The Pentagon's budget faces serious constraints this year as a result of budget caps agreed to last year and rising personnel, healthcare, and retirement costs taking up an increasing share of military spending.

Pentagon to Release Afghanistan Requests

With the U.S.'s involvement in Afghanistan set to wind down at the end of the year, there is some uncertainty about the military presence in 2015 and beyond. Until a security accord is reached, it is difficult to say whether the U.S. will leave a small residual force in the country or whether the U.S. will withdraw entirely. Because of the uncertainty, the Pentagon provided a placeholder request of $79.4 billion (most of the $85 billion war spending total) for FY 2015 without specifying how the money will be spent.

How the House-Passed Budget Tightens Defense Spending Caps

In our discussion of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget, we talked about one area where the budget actually boosts spending: defense. The budget repeals the sequester for defense spending, shifting those cuts to the non-defense side while further reducing non-defense spending. However, the committee report for the budget resolution tightens the caps by clarifying the definition of what can count as war spending.

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