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AF budget standoff may prompt defense bill veto

Nov. 29, 2012 - 04:13PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 29, 2012 - 04:13PM  |  
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Congress' attempts to stop the Air Force from cutting 5,100 airmen and more than 200 aircraft from the Air National Guard could trigger a presidential veto of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, the Office of Management and Budget announced today.

The House passed legislation this summer directing the Air Force to refrain from moving forward with its 2013 budget plan. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved similar language. A conference committee must negotiate the differences between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act before it heads to President Obama for approval.

OMB issued a Statement of Policy on Thursday that lists potential reasons for a veto. Among them: congressional efforts to block proposed Air Force cuts to the Guard.

"These provisions would force DOD to operate, sustain, and maintain aircraft that are in excess to national security requirements, as defined by the new defense strategy, and are not affordable in an austere budget environment," the statement said.

The service also plans to reduce its active force by 2,900 airmen and its reserve force by 900.

Earlier this month, adjutants general who oversee Guard units in their states were called to the Pentagon for a new budget compromise. But state leaders complained the meeting was held on too short notice and that the proposal was not presented in detail.

In a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, the co-chairs of the bipartisan Council of Governors said that states need to fully review all new proposals by the Air Force.

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