Pentagon 'big winner' in $1T omnibus bill

The Pentagon and the defense industry came out of the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill as a big winner, experts and lawmakers said Tuesday, a day after the bill was released.

“The big winner is the Defense Department. They should be breaking out champagne in the Pentagon,” said Gordon Adams, a defense budget expert and former Clinton official.

The omnibus spending bill provides about $497 billion for the Defense Department in 2014 — about the same as in 2013. But the Pentagon also received $85.2 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) for the war in Afghanistan, roughly $5 billion more than it requested for 2014.

Before last month’s budget deal that relieved $22.4 billion in sequestration cuts, the 2014 defense budget would have been around $475 billion.

The OCO funding, which Adams said is the “cherry on top of the dessert,” can be used to pay for operations and maintenance in the base budget and help restore military readiness lost in previous years.

Fiscal watchdog and anti-war groups criticized the $5 billion increase from the Pentagon's request in OCO funding as a “slush fund to pad the department’s budget and avoid spending reductions,” especially with the winding down of the Afghan War...

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