House Appropriations approves $658B defense bill

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The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a $658 billion spending plan for the Defense Department. 

The measure, which passed by voice vote, includes $584 billion for the base budget and $74 billion in war funding known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.

The bill includes language that would repeal the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) after the passing of the spending act, but gives lawmakers 240 days to debate and pass a new AUMF in its place.

{mosads}The provision, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), was the only amendment to make it into the bill during the markup Thursday.

The base funding recommendation is $28 billion above President Trump’s request and $60 billion above last year’s enacted level, according to defense subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas).

The bill also exceeds the mandatory spending level of $549 billion set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Defense hawks are pressing for the BCA caps to be repealed and are expecting a deal to be worked out between Republicans and Democrats by September.

Much of the increased spending would go toward the $12 billion National Defense Restoration Fund, an account “available to the [Defense] secretary to increase end strength, improve military readiness, modernize equipment, and invest in future technology, subject to appropriate congressional oversight,” Granger said in her opening statement.

The fund “will enable the secretary to make necessary investments resulting from that review now, instead of having to wait until 2019,” she added.

The panel’s ranking member, Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), said that while he supports additional Pentagon funding, he believes the department “will have difficulty spending so many additional dollars in a timely, efficient and transparent manner.”

He also expressed doubt “about the chances of this bill’s independent enactment in a timely fashion.”

There’s been talk of combining the defense bill with the energy and military construction bills to put on the House floor next month.

The bill’s passing follows the House Armed Services Committee’s annual defense policy bill of $696.5 billion, approved late Wednesday night.

That bill includes funding for Energy Department and military construction items.

Tags Kay Granger

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