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Congress Includes $572.7B for DoD in Spending Bill

December 16, 2015 (Photo Credit: Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The sweeping $1.15 trillion spending bill unveiled early Wednesday by congressional leaders includes $572.7 billion for the Pentagon.

Leadership and the heads of the appropriations committees struck a deal on a spending bill to fully fund the Pentagon and 11 other departments through the fiscal year. The hard-won deal also involved a $650 billion package of tax extenders that required concessions from Democrats, and cybersecurity legislation to encourage businesses to share information about cyber threats.

The bill also provides an additional $1.3 billion for operations to counter the Islamic State group, following the Obama administration’s announcement that 9,800 troops will remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate say the legislation will come to a vote in both chambers before the end of the week. Lawmakers have a bill pending that would extend stopgap funding to Dec. 22, which they must pass by Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. EST to avert a government shutdown. 

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to pass the omnibus spending legislation. 

“This package reflects conservative priorities in both funding and policy — including support for critical areas such as our national defense, halting many harmful regulations, and trimming wasteful spending,” Rogers said in a statement. “But it also represents a compromise that members on both sides of the aisle can and should get behind. It will help move our country in the right fiscal direction as we embark on a new year, and I urge its quick consideration and enactment.”

It contains $572.7 billion in defense spending, roughly the amount the Obama administration requested. But the bill’s $514.1 billion in base discretionary funding would be $23.9 billion more than the amount allocated in fiscal 2015, according to a summary of the bill. 

The measure provides $58.6 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds, $111 billion for procurement, which is roughly $17 billion more than fiscal 2015’s actual expenditures, and $49.8 billion for R&D, which is $13.7 billion more than 2015.

It also includes $213.6 billion for operations and maintenance, including $608 million to reduce readiness shortfalls, which had been a concern in the Pentagon.

As the clock ticked down on the latest stopgap spending measure, congressional leaders and the White House had been working through tough negotiations over the omnibus, and dozens of controversial policy riders. Democrats largely fought off the GOP-favored riders.

“In negotiations like this you win some, you lose some, and Democrats won some and lost some,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said before the deal was announced. “We’re going to get this done.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had indicated a key sticking point was that Democrats, in exchange for agreeing to reinstate US crude oil exports, wanted Republicans to accept clean-energy concessions.

The bill proposes several pools of money to work with allies, including $3.7 billion for the Afghan Security Forces Fund, $1.3 billion in assistance to Jordan, $1.1 billion for the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, and $715 million for the Iraq Train and Equip Fund, aimed at working with Iraqi government and Kurdish forces. It proposes $250 million for assistance, training and lethal weapons for Ukraine.

The bill contains a provision that lifts the ban on the Russian-built RD-180 engine for the Atlas 5 rocket and allows United Launch Alliance to compete for military satellite launches. Under the provision, satellite contracts may be made to a launch service provider “regardless of the country of origin of the rocket engine” used on its launch vehicle, “to ensure robust competition and continued access to space.”

It also reinvigorates the competition, including an added $143.6 million for the Air Force to continue development of a new US-made engine as an alternative to the RD-180 engine. The intent was to allow the Air Force to move quickly to end the nation’s reliance on Russia for access to space.

Summaries of the omnibus states its $111 billion for procurement and upgrades includes 68 F-35 joint-strike fighters; in all $1.33 billion for 11 additional F-35s: six more for the Marine Corps, three more for the Air Force and two more F-35s for the Navy. The bill includes $1.01 billion for 12 more EA-18G Growlers and Super Hornets, and $80 million for four more MQ-9 Reaper aircraft.

The bill contains $18.7 billion for Navy shipbuilding programs, an increase of $2.1 billion and one ship from the president's request. In total, it proposes the construction of 11 new warships: two Virginia-class submarines, two DDG-51 destroyers, three littoral combat ships, 28 amphibious transport dock, one Joint High Speed Vessel, one Afloat Forward Staging Base ship and one T-AO Fleet Replenishment Oiler. The bill also provides incremental funding, as authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act, for one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in addition to the 10 DDG-51s in the fiscal 2013-2017 multiyear procurement contract.

For the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system, there is $300 million for competitive UCLASS air vehicle development.

For the Army, the bill contains a provision limiting the number of National Guard Apaches that can be transferred in fiscal 2016 to 48 aircraft until June 30, 2016. The provision conforms to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. 

Before the deal was announced, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said it would be irresponsible not to pass the omnibus. 

“Clearly, the omnibus needs to be passed,” Hoyer, D-Md., said. “It needs to be passed to fund government, to keep it in operation, to keep the government of the United States not only protecting its people but giving confidence to those who work for the government, to those who rely on the government, which is to say essentially all of us, and to give our allies and, frankly, those around the world confidence that the greatest government, leader of the free world, is keeping itself in business.”


Twitter: @reporterjoe

An earlier version of this story mentioned a proposal of $250 billion for assistance, training and lethal weapons for Ukraine. It was in fact $250 million. This has been corrected in the story.

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