The overall dollar figure for the Pentagon in this Omnibus appropriation is $654.7 billion. That breaks down to $589.5 billion in so-called “base budget” spending and $65.2 billion for the warfighting account called “Overseas Contingency Operations” or “OCO.” At Taxpayers we’ve been calling this OCO account a slush fund for several years. And on the day after the biggest snowstorm to hit Washington this year, there is plenty of slush to go around.
If you add in the amounts Congress has already shoveled in to the Pentagon through the Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancements Act ($4.5 billion) and more for disaster assistance ($434 million) you get just a hair less than $660 billion for the Pentagon. That’s a $61 billion increase over the level enacted for the Pentagon in Fiscal Year 2017.
The new Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) cap for Defense spending in Fiscal Year 2018 is $629 billion. So, how does the Congress fit $660 billion under a $629 billion cap? Well, remember the magic of OCO spending is that it’s “off budget” and doesn’t count against the cap. (It definitely counts against the deficit, but Congress is hoping you don’t care that much about deficits.) If you subtract the OCO dollar figure of $65.2 billion, you come down to just about $595 billion. That leaves plenty of room under that stovepipe “cap” – about $34 billion worth of room to spend on other national security priorities.
And because at Taxpayers we care about “little” things like the deficit, we’ll be keeping an eye on any “emergency” supplemental requests that the Pentagon may make to spend that extra money.