The House Appropriations Committee today, in the middle of a partisan standoff over immigration and budget policy, re-introduced its fiscal year 2018 defense spending bill.
A House staffer said the bill was being re-introduced because GOP leadership promised the Freedom Caucus they would do so during recent shutdown negotiations.
The bill, the staffer said, can now be used by Republicans in the House as a political tool to highlight gridlock in the Senate, which continues to be mired in debate over issues involving immigration and relief from defense and non-defense caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
"This important legislation reflects what our military leaders have recommended in countless meetings and briefings and demonstrates our commitment to restoring military readiness, force modernization efforts, and maintaining technological superiority on the battlefield," House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) said in a statement.
The bill funds the Defense Department's base budget at $584 billion and its Overseas Contingency Operations account at $75.1 billion.
The legislation is virtually the same as the FY-18 defense appropriations bill that passed the House in July and again in September as part of an omnibus funding measure, except that it now includes an additional $1.2 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations spending to support 3,500 additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan -- something the White House did not request until November.
"It is past time that this essential, must-pass Department of Defense funding bill is enacted into law," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said in the statement. "Congress must act responsibly and quickly to get these dollars out the door and where they are needed as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, Congress, fresh from a three-day government shutdown, passed a short-term continuing resolution Monday set to expire on Feb. 8. If by then lawmakers do not reach a bipartisan deal on spending or extend the CR, the government will again close.