Friday, July 7, 2017

US House Committee presents defense bill of $696.5 billion

(June 27) The House Armed Services Committee has unveiled a new military spending bill of $696.5 billion just a few days after chair Marc Thornberry announced that there was to be a bill of $640 billion.

This new bill is actually supposed to be a cut from the previous bill. The new bill includes $75 billion in funds for Overseas Contingency Operations(OCO) that would have had to be added to the earlier bill. The argument is that the new bill is actually just $621.5 billion. It would have been clearer if it had just been explained that the earlier bill needed to increased by adding in more money for the OCO. The OCO spending is real enough.
President Trump had proposed spending $603 billion before OCO expenditures were figured in, lower than the Armed Services Committee proposes. President Trump was bragging he was the most pro-military president. Yet many Congressmen complained that even more funds were needed and this is reflected in the $696.5 billion now being requested. There will probably be even more amendments to the bill before it is finally passed through Congress adding even more to the total amount.
According to the sequestration amounts the cap on spending should be $549 billion but lawmakers are adept at circumventing the sequestration rules meant to cap overall government spending when they apply to the military. Thornberry has cited sequestration as a reason for why military spending needs to be so large at present. In the past though when caps have been reached often "emergency" spending bills have been introduced helping to mitigate the effects of sequestration and bring military spending above the caps.
The bill would add 17,000 soldiers to the Army, more than requested in Trump's budget request. There would be 10,000 for active duty, 4,000 for the Army National Guard, and 3,000 for reserve. The bill sets a 2.4 percent pay raise as compared to just 2.1 percent requested by the Trump administration.
The bill also provides the US Navy five more ships than Trump had requested including one destroyer, two Littoral Combat ships, one amphibious dock landing ship, and one Expeditionary Support Base. The bill also adds to the 289 aircraft requested by the administration, including 17 more F-35s, 8 more F/A-18s. In all, there would be 87 more aircraft then requested.
The bill also adds $2.5 billion more for missile defense expenses beyond the $9.9 billion asked by the Trump administration. The extra money is to be spent on research, development, and procurement. Congress appears to be more hawkish on military spending than the Trump administration.

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