House Appropriators Release Draft Bill

The House Appropriations Committee this week released the subcommittee draft of the 2017 defense appropriations bill, which includes $58.6 billion for overseas contingency operations funding. That money is intended to fund Operation Inherent Resolve and the war in Afghanistan through April 2017—including sustaining the current troop levels in Afghanistan, instead of a drawdown—but also includes $15.7 billion for “unmet needs within the base Pentagon budget,” according to a HAC press release. Those needs include readiness, infrastructure, modernization, additional flying time, and aircraft repairs. The draft bill also funds a 2.1 percent pay raise for troops. “This bill provides the resources needed to keep our military trained and well equipped, to ensure success in our missions now and in the future, and to care for those who put their lives on the line for us every day,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said. However, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said that “intentionally stunting” OCO funding “is a very risky proposition.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter has criticized the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense authorization bill for using $18 billion of OCO funding for base budget expenses. The full committee is scheduled to mark up the bill May 17. (Read the full text of the legislation.)