U.S. House and Senate negotiators supported a 2.4-percent pay raise for troops, an increase in the number of troops, and increased spending for aircraft and ships as part of the proposed $700 billion Pentagon budget.
The U.S. House will now review the defense policy bill – the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and then it will head to the Senate for approval before it goes to President Donald Trump’s desk for ratification.
The proposed NDAA bill for Fiscal Year 2018 includes a 2.4-percent pay raise for service members; an additional 20,000 troops; funding for weapons systems, retention pay and bonuses; and repairs for Navy ships such as the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald, which were both involved in deadly collisions earlier this year.
This is the largest proposed military budget to date, particularly the most significant budget to be passed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Senate and House Appropriations Committees still need to reach an agreement on the spending bill. Senate Democrats have vowed to block large increases in defense spending if other programs are not funded.
Congress has to come up with a definitive plan to fund the $700 billion budget by December. Congress still has to approve a defense budget cap increase – the Department of Defense Appropriations Act – in order to accommodate the proposed NDAA. The Act has already been passed in the House.
In a joint statement, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee; and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry said:
“We are tremendously proud of this NDAA, which will strengthen our military, provide our troops a pay raise, bolster missile defense, drive innovation in military technology to secure our global advantage, and build on the defense reforms Congress has passed in recent years. Most importantly, this legislation will help reverse the dangerous readiness crisis that is endangering the lives of our men and women in uniform.
The FY18 NDAA conference report authorizes funds for base budget requirements of $626 billion. Together with $66 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) warfighting account and $8 billion for other defense activities, the legislation supports a national defense topline of nearly $700 billion—a $26 billion increase above the President’s combined initial and amended budget requests.
We are also proud of the bipartisan process that led to this conference report, which took hard work and thoughtful collaboration from members on both sides of the aisle. As this legislation moves toward final passage and to the President’s desk, we are confident it will continue the bipartisan tradition of supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces and enable them to rise to the challenges of our increasingly dangerous world.”
The proposed bill would include 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which is 20 more than the Trump Administration’s request.
The budget would allocate $26.2 billion for 14 new ships, including three littoral combat ships; and flexible spending for $5.9 billion for the Virginia-class submarine programs; $5.6 billion for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; $4.4 billion for aircraft carriers; $3.1 billion for Army helicopters; and $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets.
The plan calls for 7,500 Active Duty members, 500 National Guard members and 500 Reservists for the Army; 4,000 Active Duty and 1,000 Reserves for the Navy; 4,100 Active Duty, 900 Guard and 800 Reserves for the Air Force; and 1,000 Active Duty Marines.
The plan to create a new “Space Corps” under the umbrella of the Air Force was also rejected.