Defense Bills Advance in House, Senate

US Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Photo by Andrew Van Huss

Defense spending legislation moved forward in both the House and Senate Thursday, a day after House leadership named its members of the panel that will iron out difference in the two chambers’ defense policy proposals.

The House approved, by a 359-49 vote, a $674.6 billion defense spending bill, which includes $606.5 billion in base discretionary spending, up $17.1 billion from the amount enacted for Fiscal 2018, as well as $68.1 billion in overseas contingency operations funds. The funding level, the committee said, is consistent with defense authorization legislation, passed last month by the House, as well as the new budget agreement. It also includes a 2.6 percent pay increase for the military.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) lauded the bill as “including robust funding for our troops, the defense programs, and activities necessary to accomplish our national goals and ideals, and to continue to rebuild our military.

“Ranking minority member, Nita Lowe, (D-N.Y.) said on the floor the bill “reflects the collegial and bipartisan tradition of the Defense Subcommittee, providing ample funding for the needs of our armed services and intelligence community.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee, as expected, cleared its version of the bill for Senate floor action by a 30-1 vote. The bill provides $607.1 billion in base funding and $67.9 billion for overseas contingency operations.

Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) pointed to the bill’s recommendations of investments in future technologies needed to defend the country and said the bill would help the US military maintain its technological superiority “through important investments in basic research, hypersonics, directed energy, missile defense, cybersecurity, and our test and evaluation infrastructure.”

The moves came after House leadership Wednesday named that chamber’s members of the House-Senate conference committee on the defense authorization bill. The conferees, from the House Armed Services Committee, include Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and ranking Democrat Adam Smith (Wash.), as well as more than two dozen other members of the committee. The Senate passed its version of the bill June 18.