You've got to love those politicians. The House Armed Services Committee passed a $642 billion defense bill by a vote of 56-5. The bill's total is $8 billion more than what President Obama and congressional Republicans agreed to last summer in a deficit-cutting agreement.
The president had proposed a total of $639 billion for defense. However, the committee put in money for an East Coast missile defense site that the military says is not needed, rejected the Pentagon's call for a cost-saving round of domestic base closures and scrapped the Navy's plan to retire three cruisers. The bill also suggests maintaining a force of 68,000 in Afghanistan through 2014.
It makes one wonder why we bother with military professionals when Congress knows what is needed and contradicts their recommendations. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had the temerity to say, "If members try to restore their favorite programs without regard to an overall strategy, the cuts will have to come from areas that could impact overall readiness."
I would say that the majority of the members of this committee have a clear and readily seen overall strategy: Get re-elected!
MELVIN FOSTER, Pasco