The budget process has been out of regular order for several years now. Under normal rules, Congress would pass 12 appropriations measures that form the annual budget. These 12 separate spending bills offer a lot of chances for disagreement and possible partisan wrangling. It is much easier to pass much, much larger bills that combine spending into a package – thus, the “omnibus budget.”
This year, rather than one giant omnibus, the Congress is working on passing three “minibus” bills, each of which combines multiple bills from the Appropriations Committee. These may be politically more popular than one giant bill but still contain enough goodies to corral different groups together to secure the necessary votes.
The first bill, which passed on June 19, contained the spending for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; the Department of Defense; the State Department and other foreign operations; and energy and water projects. Combining the potentially head-butting constituencies of labor or education and the defense department into one group may give the bill smoother sailing, as it passed on June 19.
The second “minibus” contained funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice and scientific agencies; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency; veterans’ programs and military construction projects; and the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
One of those is where Representatives Rick Allen (R-GA 12) and Jody Hice (R-GA 10) come in. As part of the veterans’ programs and military construction projects portion, Allen and Hice introduced an amendment which increases the funding level for construction of the second project of the Cyber Instructional Facility at Fort Gordon. The increased funding brings levels up from $70 million to $107 million.
“Cyber is the present and future of modern warfare, and at Fort Gordon, our soldiers are already on the front lines fighting the ever-increasing number of cyber threats from our adversaries. U.S. Army Cyber Command’s transition to Fort Gordon is moving forward full steam ahead, and the construction of state-of-the-art facilities is required in order to facilitate this transition successfully and continue the tradition of training world-class, highly skilled cyber professionals,” said a joint statement from Allen and Hice. “Passage of today’s amendment is critical to ensuring that Fort Gordon is fully equipped with the tools and resources needed to accomplish its mission.”
Allen and Hice noted that their amendment was fully offset by reducing spending in another account.
“The U.S. Army’s Cyber Center for Excellence is critical for cyber operations, signal and communications networks, and electronic warfare. The center carries out its important mission by developing mission doctrine, educational programs, personnel and facilities,” said Rep. Hice from the floor of the House during debate over the amendment. “It is of utmost importance that we make sure this tradition of training world-class, highly-skilled cyber professionals is kept intact. I urge passage of the Allen Hice amendment to fully fund this project and urge my colleagues to do the same.”
They were apparently convinced.
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