Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Article excerpt

BUDGET PREDICTIONS-Decision makers at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill will have a tough time modernizing the force with a $12 billion defense budget plus-up in Fiscal Year 2000, predict defense pundits. First of all, the money is derived from inflation, and fuel savings, and other unidentified sources. Operations in Bosnia and pay raises for active duty and retired service members will claim $4.5 billion, if approved. The remaining $7.5 billion may just cover inflation adjustments in most line items, say congressional watchers. All told, the department faces a $30 billion gap each year, over the next six-year period, between procurement plans and available funding.

... BIG TICKET ITEMS-Several high-profile acquisition items such as the F/A-18E/F Hornet and F-22 Raptor are expected to remain in favor with the financial gods in Washington. The shipbuilding industry can also anticipate more work, say those close to the budget process.

... RESTORING WALLS-Under the current budget cap, Congress cannot allocate more money for defense without cutting back on domestic packages such as social security. To change that rule, the budget committees will probably reinstate firewalls between the two categories during the next round of budget talks.

POWER SPLIT-Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has a tough row to hoe ahead of him, say congressional insiders. He has to establish himself as leader of the Republican majority or suffer criticism as the right hand man to the Texas boys-Reps. Dick Armey (R-TX) and Tom Delay (R-TX. Pessimists say he will not last six months. Optimists tout his abilities to build consensus and find solutions. They think he will wield the most power in the 106th Congress with a subtle hand.

TOO MUCH TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER-The unanimous vote of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with People's Republic of China may make expansion of export initiatives difficult this year. Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) is chairman of the committee. The devil is in the details, say legislators. Deciding factors will be how many companies are involved and whether the violations are deliberate abuses or the result of differing interpretations of the laws.

THE CHECK IS IN THE SNAIL MAIL-Slow payments are hurting some defense contractors, who claim they are paying out of hide while waiting for the Pentagon to pay its bills. …

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