Rules and Defense Spending Cuts

The House—in particular, the majority Republicans—along with too many so-called defense journalists are having trouble with a rule that potentially leads to defense spending cuts, a particular anathema in today’s environment of a Russia at war and a People’s Republic of China threatening war.

However, the fact is defense spending has always been vulnerable to cuts, particularly by the Progressive-Democratic Party and its predecessor Democratic Party. The proposed rule just makes the potential explicitly stated. But it does not mandate defense spending cuts; it mandates spending cuts in one (or more) places if there are to be spending increases in other places. Quoting from the proposed rules:

Initiatives to Reduce Spending and Improve Accountability. Subsection (a)(1) replaces current “pay-as-you-go” requirements with “cut-as-you- go” requirements. The provision prohibits consideration of a bill, joint resolution, conference report, or amendment that has the net effect of increasing mandatory spending within a five-year or ten-year budget window. This provision continues the current practice of counting multiple measures considered pursuant to a special order of business which directs the Clerk to engross the measures together after passage for purposes of compliance with the rule and provides a mechanism for addressing “emergency” designations.


Subsection (e)(2) establishes a point of order against consideration of a bill or joint resolution reported by a committee (other than the Committee on Appropriations) or an amendment thereto, or a conference report thereon, which has the net effect of increasing direct spending in excess of $2,500,000,000 for any of the four consecutive 10 fiscal year periods beginning with the first fiscal year that is 10 fiscal years after the current fiscal year. The levels of net increases in direct spending shall be determined based on estimates provided by the chair of the Committee on the Budget.


Spending Reduction Amendments in Appropriations Bills. Subsection (f) provides for spending reduction account transfer amendments and requires a spending reduction account section to be included in all general appropriations bills.

There’s nothing in there that mandates cuts in defense spending. All spending, though, needs to be up for discussion in light of the current Progressive-Democratic Party-driven economic condition of our nation, as Freedom Caucus Founder, Congressman Jim Jordan (R, OH) has pointed out. That I—and lots of others—disagree with not continuing to increase defense spending in these parlous times simply means that we need to make our case instead of relying on inertia to carry it. And refreshing the case is entirely good.

In the event, the rules package was passed without significant change.

The rules as proposed can be read here.

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