Yesterday, I reported that the Senate Armed Services Committee had cut $120 million from MyCAA, the largest military spouse scholarship program. Now that more details have been uncovered, it seems that the news isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Each year, Congress passes two important bills regarding the funding of the Department of Defense. These two bills are authorize and appropriate money to be spent. From the (relatively) clear explanations at Budget 101: Authorization vs. Appropriation,
Authorizing legislation sets policies and funding limits for agencies/programs. Appropriations legislation is what a department or agency needs before it can cut a check or sign a contract.
In a family, this might be similar to discussing a hypothetical purchase (“Yes, we agree that we should buy a new chair for the living room, and we should get leather, and we shouldn’t spent more than $”) and then making the actual purchase (“Yes, we am going to write a check for this specific chair.”)
Monday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a revised National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, which runs 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012. This revised NDAA contained spending reductions to bring the budget within the guidelines of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that was voted into law in August 2011 and cuts a total of $20 billion dollars in military spending for FY2012.
When planning these cuts, the Department of Defense (DoD) informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that, due to the more restrictive guidelines enacted in October 2010, the MyCAA program is not using as much money as previously requested. The DoD had previously estimated that $190 million dollars would be necessary to fully fund MyCAA for 2012. With fewer eligible participants, the estimate cost has dropped to $70 million.
The good news is that these funding cuts are not intended to cut the MyCAA program. Officials estimate that this lower funding will be enough to fully fund the program for the entire year. No new restrictions are being planned at this time. Keep on taking those classes, spouses!