House appropriations bill would cut defense spending but prohibit 2014 furloughs

The House approved a defense appropriations bill Wednesday that would cut $5 billion from the Pentagon’s non-war budget while prohibiting sequester-related furloughs.

The measure, which passed by a vote of 315 to 108, provides $28 billion above current non-war spending under the government-wide spending cuts that took effect in March.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.),  chairman of the House appropriations committee, said the bill “strikes a balance between fiscal responsibility and sufficient support for our military.”

(AFP/Getty Images) (AFP/Getty Images)

The Pentagon faces up to $52 billion in automatic cuts for 2014 unless Congress acts to stop the sequester. This year, the more than 600,000 civilian defense employees will be on unpaid leave for 11 days because of the austerity measure.

Republicans say the appropriations bill would provide enough funding to prevent unpaid leave next year even without the protection of the furlough amendments. But Democrats contend that the cuts will have to come from elsewhere.

Defense comptroller Robert Hale has said the department will consider reductions in force and involuntary separations before resorting to furloughs if the reductions continue next year.

President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal calls for $3.4 billion more in non-war spending than the House appropriations bill.

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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Josh Hicks · July 25, 2013

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