WASHINGTON — The White House is tsk tsk-ing House appropriators for an annual spending bill that adds more littoral combat ship and Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System funding than requested.
The administration otherwise supports the $675 billion 2019 defense appropriations bill, which is nearly $1 billion less than the administration’s request. The bill comes on the heels of a two-year bipartisan budget deal that set overall national security spending at $716 billion.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, in a June 12 letter to senior House appropriators, notes the bill’s inclusion of a 2.6 percent pay raise for military personnel and President Donald Trump’s request for 1.3 million active and more than 800,000 reservists.
“However, the bill adds funding to increase production for multiple acquisition programs by making significant reductions in DoD’s military personnel and operation and maintenance accounts,” Mulvaney wrote, adding the bill shortchanges key portions of the Defense Department’s request and funds items not in line with the new National Defense Strategy.
The bill provides $1.6 billion for the procurement of three LCSs, $912 million more than the president’s request for one LCS.
“These two additional ships are not needed,” Mulvaney wrote. “One LCS in FY 2019, when combined with the three funded in FY 2018, will keep both shipyards supplied with enough work to remain viable for the Frigate competition.”
The bill also provides funding for the JSTARS recapitalization program, which the administration did not request.
The Air Force announced this February its intention to cancel plans to buy new JSTARS planes and instead funnel that money into building a disaggregated network of platforms that would perform ground surveillance and battle management missions.