Despite the congressional clamor to cut the budget deficit, the bill rejects several Pentagon attempts to save money. It spares a version of the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, rebuffs attempts to increase health care fees for retirees and their dependents and opposes another round of domestic base closures.
Overall, the bill fails to acknowledge the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that Washington has grudgingly accepted. The cuts of $41 billion hit the Pentagon on March 1 and forced the military to furlough workers and scale back training.
The Pentagon faces deeper reductions in projected spending of close to $1 trillion over a decade, but the bill did not reflect that reality for next fiscal year. The Pentagon likely will have to cut $54 billion to meet the numbers dictated by the so-called sequester.
Levin said the defense policy bill approved by the panel Thursday authorizes $625 billion in spending for 2014. The legislation approves a 1 percent pay raise for the troops, as the Defense Department requested.
To help offset the negative impact of the automatic spending cuts on the military readiness, Levin said, the committee found $1.8 billion in budget savings and efficiencies. That money was shifted into other accounts for all the services in an attempt to restore flying hours, steaming days for Navy vessels, unit training and essential depot maintenance.