The House Appropriations Committee passed the 2008 defense spending bill, cutting nearly $3.6 billion from the Administration request. As promised, it does include enough money to continue development of an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. And, like their authorization counterparts, the House appropriators put money back in the DOD medical coffers to offset a proposed fee hike for military retirees on Tricare. In their words, “rejecting the President’s proposal to inflict $1.9 billion in Tricare fee and premium increases on our troops.” The spending bill, which should go before the full House next week, also would provide—as authorizers did earlier—a 3.5 percent pay raise for military personnel instead of the 3 percent requested by the President. And, it slices about half of the Administration request for funding for the Eastern European missile defense sites.
New F-35s are coming off the production line with the TR-3 upgrade and going right into storage because testing is incomplete. Next lot negotiations are continuing, but talks over a performance-based logistics contract have stalled.