Senate’s defense spending bill shows need for budget deal gas bubble disease


“This is a step forward, though we remain deeply concerned about the process. So before anyone cheers the major new investments in our national defense, we should pause and recognize that the lack of a budget deal means that all of these new investments will be automatically cut by 13% beginning on January 15th,” the Democrats said.

The Senate panel’s defense spending measure for fiscal 2018 would allocate $650.7 billion, according to a committee statement. That total would include three major categories: $581.3 billion for core Pentagon and intelligence programs, $64.9 billion for spending labeled as relating to overseas wars, and $4.5 billion in additional funds for missile defense programs.

The draft spending blueprint would allocate nearly $56 billion more than the committee had predicted in July, and it is nearly $70 billion above the subcommittee’s share of the total amount for defense-related programs allowed under current law.

They need to find a bipartisan way to increase both the cap on core defense spending and the separate limit on nondefense spending. If they don’t, any appropriations above the caps will be cut anyway in an across-the-board reduction known as sequestration.

As for aircraft, the panel would add $1 billion to buy eight additional F-35 fighter jets that were not in the administration’s request, $739 million for 10 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters for the Navy than Trump asked for, and $800 million for eight MC-130J special operations planes that were not in the president’s request, plus several billion dollars more for 50 or so more helicopters than the White House formally requested.

For missile defense programs, the bill would provide $9.3 billion, a total that includes $1.1 billion more than the president’s request for programs to combat North Korea’s ballistic missiles and another $703 million for Israeli antimissile programs — the latter nearly five times the administration’s request.

Appropriators would add $2.5 billion that was not requested for upgrading facilities across the Defense Department, and they would bankroll a 9,500-person increase in the required minimum number of total military troops, both active and reservist — a figure known as end strength.

Those measures would fund discretionary accounts for everything from the EPA to the Treasury Department and even the operation of the local government in Washington, D.C. Senate appropriators have now weighed in on or outlined all 12 spending bills

The Homeland Security spending bill would fund Trump’s priorities for immigration enforcement, including $1.6 billion the president requested to begin construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Funding for the wall will likely spark heated debate and could complicate plans for a final omnibus spending deal.

“Recent terrorist attacks within the United States demonstrate our need to be constantly vigilant against security threats. I hope this mark sets us on a course to provide the resources required by the Department of Homeland Security to protect the American people,” Cochran said in a statement about the Homeland Security measure.

“Unfortunately, this bill funds a costly and ineffective border wall that is wasting taxpayers’ money and blocking a bipartisan debate on this important legislation. We can’t spend billions of dollars on a wall at the expense of our firefighters, airports, ports, transit hubs, and local communities,” Tester, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement. “We can secure our borders more effectively with better technology and more manpower without saddling our kids and grandkids with the debt a border wall will require.”

“It fully funds the administration request for physical barriers in targeted, high-traffic areas along the southern border, while also continuing a requirement that the Department provide Congress with a comprehensive border security plan,” the Appropriations Committee’s majority said in a bill summary.