updated 7/8/2011 4:37:22 PM ET 2011-07-08T20:37:22

Money for the Pentagon and the nation's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is proving largely immune from the budget-cutting that's slamming other government agencies in the rush to bring down the deficit.

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On a 336-87 vote Friday, the Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly backed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Defense Department budget by $17 billion. The strong bipartisan embrace of the measure came as White House and congressional negotiators face an Aug. 2 deadline on agreeing to trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts and raising the borrowing limit so the U.S. does not default on debt payments.

While House Republican leaders agreed to slash billions from the proposed budgets for other agencies, hitting food aid for low-income women, health research, energy efficiency and much more, the military budget is the only one that would see a double-digit increase in its account beginning Oct. 1

Concerns about undermining national security, cutting military dollars at a time of war and losing defense jobs back home trumped fiscal discipline in the House. Only 12 Republicans and 75 Democrats opposed the overall bill.

"In the midst of a serious discussion about our nation's debt crisis, House Republicans demonstrated responsible leadership that sets priorities and does not jeopardize our national security interests and our nation's ongoing military efforts," Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, said in a statement.

But Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, scoffed at the suggestion that "everything is on the table" in budget negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders.

"The military budget is not on the table," he said. "The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch."

Video: Job figures far below analysts’ expectations (on this page)

The bill would provide $530 billion to the Pentagon and $119 billion to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would provide a 1.6 percent increase in pay and buy various warships, aircraft and weapons, including a C-17 cargo plane that the Pentagon did not request but is good news for the Boeing production line in Long Beach, Calif.

During three days of debate, the House easily turned back several efforts to cut military spending, including amendments by Frank on the Democratic side and and tea party-backed freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.

In Congress this year, anti-war lawmakers and budget-conscious tea partyers have banded together to try to rein in military spending with some success.

"We are at a time of austerity," Frank said. "We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back."

Frank's amendment to cut $8.5 billion failed on a 244-181 vote Thursday.

"Many of us have gone around back home and told people how serious we are," Mulvaney said. "But how can we look them in the eye and tell them that we are serious about cutting spending and then come in and plus up the base defense budget?"

He added: "We have made hard decisions. We have made hard choices. The Defense Department needs to do exactly the same."

His amendment to set the Pentagon budget at current levels failed 290-135.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said there are "those who want to keep the military as strong as possible, so do I, but that doesn't mean you can't have an exceptionally strong military and cut the budget a little bit."

The overall bill is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama sought. The White House has threatened a veto, citing limits in the legislation on the president's authority to transfer detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and money for defense programs the administration didn't want.

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The overall bill must be reconciled with a still-to-be-completed Senate version.

Yet not every House member thought spending was set high enough. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., opposed the bill for cutting too deeply.

"It is dangerous for Congress to begin hollowing out the United States military without fully realizing the national security risks this may entail," Forbes said in a statement.

The House also acted to slow the repeal of the policy allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces. Lawmakers voted to block money to train the Chaplain Corps on the practices it should use once the "don't ask, don't tell" policy ends.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., sponsor of the measure, said its purpose is to prohibit chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on military bases without regard to a state's law. The House approved the measure 236-184.

The practical effect of his effort was unclear as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to certify the end of the 17-year ban this summer, long before Congress completes a final defense spending bill.

The House also rejected an amendment by Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio that would have barred funds for the U.S. operation against Libya. The vote was 251-169.

The House has sent mixed signals on Obama's military action against Libya, voting to prohibit weapons and training to rebels looking to oust Moammar Gadhafi but stopping short of trying to cut off money for American participation in the NATO-led mission.

The votes mirrored the contradictory actions of the House last month, when lawmakers refused to approve the operation but declined to cut off the money.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Job figures far below analysts’ expectations

  1. Closed captioning of: Job figures far below analysts’ expectations

    >>> today's disappointing jobs report have some on wall street once again raising the prospect of a double dip recession. with me chairman of the white house council of economic advisors . let's talk about this. by any count, dismal, miserable, disappointing what's your adjective for this job's report?

    >> i thought the job's report is really a call to action in the sense that we've got a number of things that are bipartisan that are sitting there waiting to be passed and folks in washington are bickering about them. and if you get a report like this one, which is baking up what we learned starting last time that the growth rate has slowed down, we've got to get the growth rate up of the economy. if you don't get the growth rate up, we won't generate jobs. we've got to go back to the kind of growth rates that we had before the last two months when we added two million jobs or even faster than that. so let's pass those things that there's bipartisan agreement on.

    >> let's talk about something that there isn't bipartisan agreement on, that is the debt ceiling. some may argue, some from the house democratic side may argue that further budget cuts will only lead to more layoffs in the public sector which contributed to this jobs number, and that further tax increases republicans could say could lead to more uncertainty on the business side, the private sector . so can't this be a double edged argument against doing a deal?

    >> look, that's why i start with the first -- many things that we don't agree on. there are some big things that we could agree on. so we can pass the three free trade agreements sitting there. we could create the infrastructure bank which doesn't cost that much money from the government is about leveraging private sector money to try to get construction workers back into jobs. and reinvest in the infrastructure of the country. we could pass a patent reform. we can extend the payroll tax cut. all of those things are bipartisan in nature and important. we ought to do them right now. on the deficit and debt negotiation , i do think it's important we remove this wet blanket of uncertainty that is permeating the private sector where they don't know that the government -- that there are people actively advocating that the government declare it's not going to pay its bills. i think that is a very dangerous line of reasoning. we've got to reach some balanced bipartisan plan so that we're living within our means long-term, but that is not undermining the growth agenda of the country.

    >> austin some of those people who are advocating that are in your own party. we're hearing from that bernie sanders to some of the house republicans. i speak to -- rather the house democrats. i spoke to a lot of members of the democratic caucus last night in person face-to-face they are furious. they want nancy pelosi to take you all over the cliff with flags flying. what do you say to your own caucus?

    >> i'm just the economic policy guy. i'm not in the legislative negotiations. that's for the congressmen themselves. congress people themselves and the president.

    >> you know the parameters --

    >> i'm not accusing anybody of either party. my point is if we get numbers like the ones we've seen, which reiterate how important it's going to be that we get the growth rate back up to what it was for the previous 15 months, so that we can add millions of jobs we need to stop with the bigering. there are a bunch of things that we could do right now that both parties agree on that would help us grow the economy. why don't we do them.

    >> let me ask you whether you think there's a risk of a double dip ?

    >> well, look, i would say what we saw in this jobs report reiterates what we already knew and that is the economy was growing but the growth rate slowed rather significantly in the beginning part of this year because of these head winds. now the fed, the private forecasters, the office of management and budget , the cbo all of those groups are forecasting a rebound in the second half of the year. and previous to the last two months we had a more robust growth rate we had added two million jobs. those are not really what -- that's not a double dip . so i don't think that there is a double dip i think this is an indicator of that.

    >> finally, if there is no agreement and if the country could pass august 2nd and a day or two later or however long end up not being able to pay its bills, not being able to borrow money, what is your economic analysis of what the impact of that would be?

    >> my analysis is that's the last thing the economy needs right now. i mean, this jobs report and the last one should be calls to action that let's stop with the bickering. let's do at least those things that we can both agree on. to get to some point where the u.s. government 's going to declare that it's going to selectively default or not pay its bills would be a very dark day in the history of the country.

    >> thank you very much. great to see you.


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