A Special Budgetary Place for Defense

March 7, 2013

The Defense Department gets special budgetary treatment, and the Pentagon’s fiscal 2013 appropriations bill in the House’s Continuing Resolution that passed Wednesday proves the point.

It’s not just because Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs were the only ones that got the fiscal 2013 money while the rest of government mainly continued to receive funds at the fiscal 2012 level. That can be justified mainly because national security is involved, so supporting our troops and veterans here at home is universally accepted.

But there are other reasons why no other department or agency can get away with having billions of appropriated but unused funds that can be returned to the Treasury or shifted to other projects. And no other department can have Congress annually take some of those billions — using reasons such as “unjustified program growth,” “revised cost estimate,” “contract delay,” “ahead of need” or just “excess funding” — and not have a few heads roll.

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