House passes $600B defense bill

The House defense appropriations bill included at least three amendments – all which passed by a voice vote late Tuesday night – aimed at barring the federal government from using any money to implement Defense furloughs.

Among them: An amendment introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., that would bar the use of federal dollars to implement sequestration-related furloughs of civilian defense employees. Two other amendments also aimed to prevent furloughs to those whose salaries are paid by a revolving fund not directly paid for through congressional appropriations and those who are federal employees and also members of the National Guard and Reserves, respectively.

“The furloughing of civilian Defense Department workers due to sequestration has been nothing short of shameful, said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who voted against the budget cuts that led to the furloughs. “Families have been severely impacted because the President and the Senate have refused to act on this issue.”

He said the Senate should include similar language in their Defense appropriations bill, which has yet to pass. The bill will pay for the fiscal year that begins in October and would not affect current Defense furloughs, which began earlier this month and will go through the end of September. In all, civilian Defense employees are required to take 11 days during that period.

In Ohio, the cuts will affect an estimated 12,500 employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton and up to 9,000 employees at the Defense Supply Center Columbus in Whitehall. In all, 650,000 civilian Defense employees nationally are affected by the cuts.

The bill passed 315-109.

Staff for President Barack Obama has indicated Obama would likely veto the House-passed bill for a variety of reasons, including because it does not push for base closings, which the administration argues would save money, and requires larger military pay increases than the Obama administration would like. The administration argues that the pay raise may ultimately result in reduction to troop levels as well as reductions to readiness and modernization accounts.

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