The House easily passed a fiscal 2017 defense spending bill on Wednesday that would provide $577.9 billion for the Pentagon.
The bill passed on a largely bipartisan vote, 371-48.
Though many Democrats voted for the bill, they took issue with Republicans taking up the defense bill with no indication that Congress will move on other spending bills. They also criticized Republicans for punting on the defense spending bill at the end of last year, only to pass a version now that closely reflects the spending levels agreed to in December.
“Despite my support for this legislation, I am extremely troubled that we are still working on the fiscal year 2017 defense bill five months and eight days into the fiscal year,” said Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. “Even more disconcerting is the fact that the defense appropriations act is just one of 11 fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills that need to be completed by the end of next month. There is no excuse for them remaining unfinished.”
Currently the Pentagon, along with most of the rest of the government, is operating on a stopgap spending measure Congress passed at the end of last session.
The stopgap measure, called a continuing resolution, expires at the end of April. But Republican lawmakers have said fiscal 2017 defense spending should be passed earlier to give the Pentagon budget certainty and allow Congress to turn its attention to upcoming issues.
The bill passed Wednesday and introduced last week would provide $516.1 billion in base budget funding and $61.8 billion for the war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
Not included in the bill is an expected supplemental budget request from the administration, which Congress is still waiting to get. The supplemental would likely be added to the war fund, which is not subject to budget caps.
Coupled with the funding from the continuing resolution, the bill passed Wednesday would mean the Pentagon gets $583.7 billion for fiscal 2017.
The funding level is consistent with the fiscal 2017 defense policy bill signed into law by former President Obama in December and agreed to by both the House and the Senate.
In a statement of administration policy this week, the White House said it supports the spending bill and pledged to deliver Congress the supplemental request in the coming weeks.
“The bill funds critical national security needs,” the statement said. “The administration is committed to working with the Congress on a sustained effort to rebuild the military. In the coming weeks, the administration plans to request additional FY 2017 appropriations to improve the warfighting readiness of the military and provide the resources needed to accelerate the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
Rep. Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said passing the defense spending bill provides the Pentagon budget stability.
“Strengthening our national security and rebuilding our military starts today with this agreement,” he said, “the first step after years of cutbacks.”