Armed Services leaders warn Gates about halting work on programs

Setting up a potential clash, top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee on Monday urged Defense Secretary Robert Gates to halt plans to shut down work on at least two major weapons programs until lawmakers have an opportunity to grill the Pentagon on its decisions.

In a letter to Gates, Armed Services Chairman Howard (Buck) McKeon, R-Calif., and his top lieutenants said they are worried defense officials will issue stop-work orders on pricey Pentagon programs before Congress has the chance to exercise its power of the purse.

"Our immediate concern is that the Defense Department will take precipitous action in the near term that would undercut Congress' ability to pass judgment on the recommendations," according to the letter obtained by National Journal Daily.

Specifically, they say they are worried the Marine Corps will stop work on the $15 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, a General Dynamics amphibious assault vehicle that weighs in at 80,000 pounds and can skim across the sea at 25 knots. They also raised concerns about ending the Army's surface-launched advanced medium-range air-to-air missile developed by Raytheon, saying it is unclear why the Pentagon opted to halt the program after completing development.

"These questions require diligent consideration prior to the department taking action that would adversely impact the program in the coming weeks," the lawmakers wrote. "We specifically request that no 'stop work' orders be issued until our committee has the opportunity to fully examine all of the efficiencies you have proposed."

Gates announced plans to terminate the EFV and SLAMRAAM programs January 6 as part of a sweeping effort to trim Pentagon spending.

At the core of that initiative are plans to slash $78 billion in defense spending over the next five years while also finding more than $100 billion in unnecessary costs and redirecting those to higher-priority items within the department.

Defense programs -- many of which employ thousands in several different states -- have strong constituencies on Capitol Hill, making it difficult for department officials to convince Congress to terminate them. The EFV, in particular, has support from key lawmakers, including McKeon and Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Todd Akin, R-Mo.

Despite the odds against him, Gates has a surprisingly successful track record cutting programs over the last three years, winning far more battles on Capitol Hill than he has lost. And with budget-conscious Republicans in the House open to the idea of curbing Pentagon spending, the popular Defense secretary might get his way again this year.

"No one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent over at the Pentagon," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

McKeon and other Republicans on his panel, however, have been more critical of exposing the military to the types of budget cuts affecting other federal agencies and have vowed to scrub the Pentagon's fiscal year 2012 budget request, due to Congress next month.

Gates and his deputies will have ample opportunities to sell their plan to lawmakers over the next several weeks -- starting Wednesday when Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and the No. 2 officers from each of the military services testify before the House Armed Services Committee on their "efficiency" plans.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.