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July 28, 2015

Taxpayer Group Knocks Senate Defense Spending Bill

IWOJIMA, TOKYO -- Pilots  in a EA-18G Growler complete a night time, touch-and-go landing during Field Carrier Landing Practice for the Carrier Air Wing 5 of U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi on May 14. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Pilots in a EA-18G Growler complete a nighttime, touch-and-go landing during Field Carrier Landing Practice for the Carrier Air Wing 5 of U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan on May 14. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Taxpayers for Common Sense found fault with the House’s fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill, and the group now has its share of gripes with the Senate’s $549.7 billion version, too, for spending money on programs the Defense Department doesn’t want and adding money beyond what the Obama administration requested.

One of the gripes was about the addition of 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft to the Navy’s budget at the cost of $1.3 billion; another was the $848.7 million refueling of the nuclear core of the U.S.S. George Washington aircraft carrier, which the administration had hoped to delay. Other complaints include adding an extra amphibious LPD-17 ship at $800 million, along with more money for the Littoral Combat Ship and for upgrading the Abrams tank.

As with the House version, Taxpayers for Common Sense was divided on the idea of adding $338 million to keep the A-10 Warthog going after the administration tried to cancel it, but at least the Senate didn’t follow the House’s lead and add money for the expensive F-35, which the administration wants to fill some of the A-10’s tasks.

The group criticized the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account for being included in the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations account, a move it found akin to “a slush fund within a slush fund,” emphasis theirs. The argument about the OCO being a slush fund is one we’ve weighed before.

But it praised a couple Senate decisions, too, such as curtailing the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (which the White House wasn’t upset about because the program would get off the ground) request and other moves. Said the Senate panel of the fund in its report, while supporting the concept:

The Committee is concerned with several aspects of the proposal. In particular, the Committee does not support broad exemptions from current laws that could result in the training of foreign security services that would otherwise be ineligible for such assistance. The Committee similarly does not support waiving the statutory caps on the amount of funds that may be used for cooperative counterterrorism activities. Additionally, the Committee has not been satisfied that there is a sufficiently specific plan in place to execute $4,000,000,000 over the next 3 years for the requested activities.

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    July 21, 2014
    10:15 a.m.

    So, the Taxpayer’s for Common Sense is arguing that only one branch of government should set budget priorities? That the Pentagon should simply decide what it needs and Congress rubber stamp it?

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