Published: December 12, 2013
Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn supported a pair of bills that passed the House Thursday to set a 2014 federal spending and set a Pentagon budget plan.
Lamborn said he was enticed to back the bipartisan spending plans by a move to boost Pentagon spending by $20 billion in 2014 and send the lion's share of a diminished military construction budget to Colorado with $264 million in planned spending.
"The main factor that got me to vote yes was that we eliminated the next round of Draconian sequestration budget cuts to defense," said Lamborn, who led the GOP charge in September to hang up the federal budget on a bid to bust "Obamacare".
House Republicans averted another shutdown in January by cutting a budget deal with the Senate's majority Democrats. But the compromise came at a cost, Lamborn said.
Military retirees will start feeling the budget deal in their paychecks as soon as 2015. The compromise plan limited cost-of-living increases for retired troops with a new formula that sets the increase rate below the inflation rate for recipients under age 62.
The Military Officers Association of America issued a scathing news release over the change, saying young retirees could see a 20 percent drop in their income by the time they hit 62.
"A 20 percent reduction in retired pay and survivor benefit values is a very substantial cut in military career benefits and does not represent good faith to our men and women in uniform," MOAA President Norb Ryan said.
Lamborn said he wasn't happy with than provision but backed the budget plan because it funneled more cash overall to the military.
"I'm not happy about that, but saving the defense dollars for men and women in uniform is critical even if its not an ideal plan," he said.
The budget deal, which has passed both chambers and awaits a signature from President Barack Obama who backed the plan, eases a decade of $1 trillion in planned Pentagon cuts. If the trend holds in future years, the pentagon will see an extra $250 billion in spending through 2022.
The brokered budget brought praise form Colorado's congressional Democrats.
"This framework - the result of the give-and-take Coloradans expect from their leaders in Congress - is hopefully the first step in a renewed, serious push toward a larger bipartisan deal to reduce the federal deficit and bring greater economic certainty," Democratic Sen. Mark Udall said in a statement.
The separate Pentagon budget measure, the National Defense Authorization Act, is expected to sail to Senate passage Friday.
In the bill, El Paso County gets the biggest cut of a downsized Pentagon construction budget in 2014.
The bulk of that money, $242 million, will go for hangars and other facilities to house a the helicopter brigade that's assigned to Fort Carson's Butts Army Airfield.
Troops and aircraft for the brigade began arriving this year for the unit, which is expected to be at full strength sometime in 2014.
Another $22 million would go to building a support battalion complex for Fort Carson's 10th Special Forces Group.
In a sign of Pentagon belt-tightening, no construction cash was earmarked for Air Force bases in the Pikes Peak region.
The measure did carry a provision that blocked funding of a Pi?n Canyon expansion. The Army has long renounced plans to grow the training area outside Trinidad.