August 6, 2004 | WebMemo on National Security and Defense

2005 Defense Appropriations Bill Reflects Heritage Priorities

Congress has passed and President Bush has signed into law the $417.5 billion 2005 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. This legislation funds both America's core defense program and its ongoing operations in Iraq. Many of the activities funded by the bill are vitally important to the United States' national security and have been advocated by the Heritage Foundation. These provisions include-

  • Funding for the production of Arrow missile components in the United States and in Israel;
  • Funding for submarine refueling, conversion, and procurement;
  • Providing $10 billion for missile defense programs, an increase of $1 billion from FY 2004 levels;
  • Increasing funding for the Army's Future Combat System by $1.2 billion to $2.9 billion;
  • Full funding for the Non Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) and the direct fielding of it by no later than 2010; the cannon represents part of the system that will replace the Crusader artillery system;
  • Termination of the Comanche helicopter program and redistribution of its funding to other Army aviation programs;
  • Increasing troop pay by 3.5 percent;
  • Elimination of charges for off-base housing for most service members;
  • Providing $25 billion in emergency appropriations to support current operations in Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • Funding of $586.5 million for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles;
  • Providing $100 million for the Air Force to modernize its fleet of midair refueling tankers; and
  • Authorization for the Secretary of Defense, on a case-by-case basis, to waive limitations on the procurement of defense items from a foreign country if (1) the Secretary determines that such limitations would invalidate cooperative or reciprocal trade agreements for the procurement of defense items and (2) such country does not discriminate against the same or similar defense items procured in the United States for that country; exceptions are also provided.

Although the 2005 Appropriation Act contains many worthwhile provisions, the legislation is shortsighted in several areas. For example, it cuts funding for the Advanced Wideband System and Mobile User Objective System, both of which are central to the Pentagon's future communications networks. It also cuts funding for Space-Based Radar, which will allow the military to track targets deep in enemy territory, by $100 million. These programs are critical to the forces' overall transformation. The Act also cuts the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) budget by $50 million and ballistic missile defense by $183 million.

Additionally, the Act includes over $1.3 billion in non-defense spending for such things as humanitarian relief in the Sudan, fire fighting assistance, and security at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. While these expenditures may be worthwhile, they should not be part of Defense appropriations. 

It total, the 2005 Department of Defense Appropriations Act will provide the U.S. armed forces with the tools it needs to respond to the nation's national security needs as it prepares America's armed forces for the unpredictable future

 

Jack Spencer is Senior Policy Analyst for Defense and National Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Jack Spencer Vice President, the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity