The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) transits the Thames River in May as it returns to Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut. Congressional budget writers unveiled a massive federal spending bill Monday that includes nearly $93 billion for the DoD to buy new weapons. (MCS1 Jason J. Perry / Navy)
Budget deal allows Air Force to award helicopter contract
WASHINGTON — A federal budget agreement announced Monday night includes money for the Air Force to award a contract to a Sikorsky Aircraft and Lockheed Martin joint venture to build a new generation of 112 combat search-and-rescue helicopters.
The deal includes $333.5 million for the Air Force to approve the project, which would support 250 existing and new jobs at Lockheed's facility in Owego.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer described the funding as "a win-win for the Air Force, which desperately needed new aircraft to support the combat search-and-rescue mission, and for Owego, where the top-notch aircraft will be produced."
The Air Force said late last year it would award the contract, which has a long-term value of $5.5 billion, to the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin partnership. — Gannett News
WASHINGTON — Congressional appropriators on Monday evening unveiled a massive federal spending bill that includes a full 2014 Pentagon appropriations measure that would provide nearly $93 billion to buy new weapons.
The Defense Department would get $63 billion for research and development (R&D) projects, an area senior officials have warned isn’t funded enough. That is almost $7 billion less than the department got in 2013.
The White House had asked for $99.3 billion for Pentagon procurement, and $67.5 billion for R&D.
The government-wide omnibus appropriations bill released by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., would allocate $572 billion to the Defense Department.
That means $487.6 billion goes into the base budget and $85 billion is for overseas operations.
The 2014 defense appropriations bill would give the Pentagon $92.9 billion in total procurement funds, down nearly $8 billion from the 2013 amount.
The Pentagon appropriations bill spells out few weapons program-specific funding levels.
But it does lay out proposed program funding allocations for several major Navy shipbuilding programs, including more than $6 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program. The measure proposes around $2 billion for the DDG 51 destroyer effort (including advanced procurement funds), and another $1.8 billion for aircraft carrier refueling work.
It proposes more than $900 million for the service’s carrier replacement program, and $1.8 billion for its Littoral Combat Ship program. The Joint High Speed Vessel program would get nearly $3 million
Pentagon and industry officials long urged Congress to pass a full defense bill because operating under continuing resolutions prohibits actions such as new program starts or the awarding of multiyear contracts.
On the latter, the bill would clear the Pentagon to enter multiyear contracts on several big-ticket programs: “E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, SSN 774 Virginia 19 class submarine, KC-130J, C-130J, HC-130J, 20 MC-130J, [and] AC-130J aircraft.”
Though it offers few other program-specific funding lines, the bill does state the Air Force would receive $10.3 billion to buy aircraft and $4.4. billion to buy missiles. The Army would get $1.6 billion for ground vehicles, $4.8 billion for aircraft, $1.5 billion for missiles and $1.4 billion for ammunition.
The Navy is set to get more than $16 billion for new aircraft, $15 billion for shipbuilding, $3 billion for weapons, and $549 million for ammunition. The Marine Corps would receive $1.2 billion for all of its procurement accounts.
The omnibus also includes $85.2 billion for the war in Afghanistan and America’s other overseas contingencies operations. That amount is $5 billion more than the Obama administration requested, and that section also contains procurement funding for each service.
The existing continuing resolution expires Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. EST. But due to congressional rules, the omnibus won’t pass before then. Both chambers are expected to pass a three-day stopgap measure, moving the deadline to pass the omnibus to Saturday.
The department’s operations and maintenance accounts took a hit, with appropriators forced to cut the accounts to fit the Pentagon spending bill under caps set in 2011. The omnibus sets O&M funding at $159.9 billion, nearly $14 billion less than 2013 level.
“We are pleased to have come to a fair, bipartisan agreement on funding the government for 2014. Although our differences were many and our deadline short, we were able to a draft a solid piece of legislation,” Rogers and Mikulski said in a joint statement Monday evening.
“As with any compromise, not everyone will like everything in this bill, but in this divided government a critical bill such as this simply cannot reflect the wants of only one party,” Rogers and Mikulski said. “We believe this is a good, workable measure that will serve the American people well, and we encourage all our colleagues to support it this week.”
Editor’s Note: This article was updated Tuesday morning to reflect proper funding levels.