2013 defense act has long road ahead of it

House defense bill asks for $3 billion more than the Obama administration's plan.

The House Appropriations Commitee's defense subcommittee passed its version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a $608 billion bill that was voted on behind closed doors May 8.

The House bill is more than $3 billion over the defense plan proposed by President Barack Obama, and includes a number of measures to stave off effects of the sequestration process that enacts hundreds of millions in government spending cuts. Also targeted in the bill are cyber warfare, the defense industrial base and small business.

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The legislation includes $519.2 billion for the fiscal 2013 base budget and $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, including the war in Afghanistan.

The legislation revives some programs and spending the Pentagon planned to cut next year as part of austerity measures, including $278 million to keep the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones. It also boosts research and development funding by $576 million.

“This subcommittee has worked tirelessly to mitigate risks associated with budget shortfalls in areas such as shipbuilding, force structure, and weapons and facility maintenance,” Bill Young (R-Fla.), subcommittee chairman, said in a statement.

Among the bill’s provisions are authorities for cyber warfare, noting the growing importance of cyber defense as al-Qaeda and the Taliban gain traction in the cyber arena. The bill directs authority to the Defense Secretary to “conduct clandestine military activities in cyberspace in support of military operations pursuant to an armed conflict.”

There are also workforce measures in the bill, including plans allowing for national security personnel to rotate between agencies to increase efficiency and coordination, Federal News Radio reported.

A number of measures in the bill address the defense industrial base.

In the bill, Congress targeted the military’s poor inventories of service contracts – except for the Army, which the bill designates as a model for the other services. Under the provisions, a number of non-Army DOD components could lose 20 percent of operations and maintenance funding if they fail to demonstrate progress in meeting the inventory requirements.

Innovation and technology commercialization also receive a boost in the legislation, including plans for a pilot program to “accelerate commercialization of research innovations,” and a national security strategy to protect the technology and industrial base. The bill also mandates DOD to examine and minimize “foreign boycotts on the national technology and industrial base” that could threaten U.S. industry.

Other language in the bill targets small-business concerns, including a pilot program to foster small-business development, improvement of the acquisition workforce in dealing with small business, and the designation of a DOD official who would be a central point of contact for small-business contracting issues.

With the bill passed by the House defense appropriations committee, it next heads for markup by the House Armed Services Committee, scheduled for May 9. It’s expected to be a lengthy process, according to The Hill.