House appropriators poised to back DOD modernization spending

By Tony Bertuca  
June 6, 2018 at 12:37 PM

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee seeks to fund Pentagon modernization at $238 billion for fiscal year 2019, slightly above the Trump administration's request and in line with a House authorization bill passed last month, according to a draft of the panel's bill.

The bill, which the subcommittee is scheduled to debate Thursday, would provide $133 billion to the Pentagon's base budget procurement account and $12.7 billion in Overseas Contingencies Operations procurement funds. The amount for base procurement is $2.5 billion above the administration's request.

The bill includes $22.7 billion to procure 12 Navy ships, including funding for three Littoral Combat Ships, two Virginia-class submarines and three DDG-51 guided missile destroyers.

The legislation would also appropriate $9.4 billion for 93 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, though the Pentagon requested only 77. Meanwhile, the bill provide $1.9 billion for 24 F-18 Super Hornets, $1.8 billion for 18 C-130Js, $1.5 billion for the upgrade of 85 Abrams tanks, and other DOD priorities.

The legislation would provide $91.2 billion to the Defense Department's research and development efforts and $1.2 billion to its OCO R&D fund. The bill would increase R&D spending by $2.9 billion above FY-18.

Specifically, the bill supports "research and development of: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; space security programs; nuclear force modernization; continuation of the [Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System]-recapitalization program; the Ohio-class submarine replacement; Future Vertical Lift; the Israeli Cooperative Programs; and other important research and development activities, including those within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)," according to a summary released by the subcommittee.

Overall, the bill provides a total of $674.6 billion for DOD, including $606.5 billion in the base budget and $68.1 billion in the OCO account.

Senate appropriators are not scheduled to debate their defense spending bill until the week of June 25.

Senate authorizers are now debating their version of the FY-19 defense policy bill, which passed the House last month.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this week canceled the Senate's planned August recess, noting his plans to complete the appropriations process before the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1.