Senate defense spending bill $50B lower than what authorizers want
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday introduced a Defense Department spending bill that would provide billions of dollars less than authorizers hope to get to fund the Pentagon next year.
The legislation provides $650.7 billion in funding, including $581.3 billion in base defense spending, and $64.9 billion for the war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) program.
Senators also propose an additional $4.5 billion for emergency funding for “missile defeat and defense enhancements,” requested by the White House earlier this month.
The bill is $15.4 billion above President Trump’s budget request for the Defense Department, but also $50 billion lower than what the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) seeks.
The NDAA – passed by Congress last week and awaiting Trump’s signature – authorizes $700 billion for the military, including $626.4 billion for the base budget, $65.7 billion for OCO and $8 billion in defense dollars in other committees.
The amount is significantly higher than what Senate appropriators are proposing, but both bills still go far beyond the $549 billion spending cap set under the 2011 Budget Control Act.
If the defense spending bill moves forward without an agreement in Congress to raise budget caps, there could be across-the-board cuts. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) acknowledges this in his statement accompanying the legislation.
“This proposal recommends funding for programs necessary to protect U.S. national security interests. However, we still require a budget agreement to establish a top-line funding level for national defense spending,” said Cochran, who also chairs the defense subcommittee.
“I am optimistic we will be able to write a final bill that supports a strong U.S. force structure and makes needed investments in readiness, shipbuilding programs, aircraft procurement and missile defense,” he added.
The U.S. government currently operates under a short-term budget that expires Dec 8. The House in September passed a $1.2 trillion bill funding several agencies, including the Defense Department, but the Senate has yet to consider the funding package.