Can savings from military pensions be part of the solution to avoid deeper cuts from defense next month?
That’s an important question facing House-Senate negotiators as they try to close out a deal this week to avoid another round of sequestration in January and restore some certainty to the appropriations process for the remainder of this Congress.
The two sides appear close but Democrats are anxious about the level of savings being sought by Republicans from civilian federal workers. Finding some money on the military side of the equation could lessen this burden and make the package more equitable too from a political standpoint.
Indeed, the Pentagon has the greatest stake in some agreement and faces a further $21 billion cut in its 2014 budget if nothing is done. There is a greater recognition too –in Congress and among the Joint Chiefs— that it must come to terms with personnel-related costs, which are eating up more and more of what money remains.