House panel reintroduces defense spending bill
The House Appropriations Committee reintroduced Thursday a bill to fund the Pentagon for fiscal 2018.
“It is past time that this essential, must-pass Department of Defense funding bill is enacted into law,” committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said in a statement Thursday. “Congress must act responsibly and quickly to get these dollars out the door and where they are needed as soon as possible.”
The House has twice passed defense appropriations for fiscal 2018, but the Senate has not voted on a defense spending bill because Congress has yet to agree to a budget deal that would set the top-line dollar figure for defense and nondefense funding.
But earlier this month, House leadership promised defense hawks and conservatives another vote on a defense appropriations bill in exchange for their votes on a stopgap spending measure needed to avert a government shutdown.
The shutdown was not averted after Senate Democrats blocked an initial continuing resolution, and throughout the three-day shutdown, Republicans hammered Democrats for failing to pass defense spending.
The bill introduced Thursday is unlikely to be enacted, but provides an opportunity to send a message as a larger deal to raise budget caps continues to be worked out.
The bill is “virtually the same” as the previous fiscal 2018 defense appropriations bills, according to a committee release.
It would provide $659.2 billion to the Pentagon, including $584 billion for the base budget and $75.1 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
One difference from the previous bills is $1.2 billion more in that account for Afghanistan operations.
When added to the $4.7 billion in emergency missile defense and ship repair funds passed as part of a continuing resolution in December, the bill would mean a total of $664 billion for the Pentagon for fiscal 2018, consistent with the funding levels authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act.
“This important legislation reflects what our military leaders have recommended in countless meetings and briefings and demonstrates our commitment to restoring military readiness, force modernization efforts and maintaining technological superiority on the battlefield,” Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, said in a statement. “After years of cuts, it’s time to rebuild our military.”