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Massive $717 billion defense bill to call for A-10 maintenance, Trump’s military parade and more

A pilot assigned to the 104th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron prepares an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a mission May 27, 2012, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The A-10 is a specialized ground-attack aircraft that provides close air support to ground forces operating in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy)
May 07, 2018

The House Armed Services Committee on Friday revealed many details of the proposed $717 billion 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which specifies the budget for the Defense Department and outlines the level of defense spending, as well as policies that determine how the money is used.

The full text of the bill was expected to be released on Monday, and committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry provided a glimpse of some of the pieces of the plan in a release. This is the beginning of a long process to mark up the bill and ultimately send a final version to President Donald Trump, who would sign it into law and fund the Defense Department for Fiscal Year 2019.

The proposal includes a “topline” total defense budget of $717 billion, with a $639.1 billion defense budget base and $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations.

The proposed increase in spending comes in part from more funding for flying hours and military training, following 46 aviation deaths and mishaps since last year. The proposal also calls for 77 Lockheed Martin joint strike fighter aircraft requested by President Trump, and a $65 million increase for A-10 Warthog aircraft maintenance

The President’s military parade would also be approved in the NDAA.

While details including the cost were not outlined in Thornberry’s document, it was noted that the proposal would prohibit the use of operational units or equipment in the parade “if the Secretary of Defense believes such use will hamper readiness.” The parade will be held in Washington, D.C., and is scheduled for Veteran’s Day,

“For too long our men and women in uniform have been victims of political discord. Honoring those who have served our nation over the past 100 years, including those who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, should not be a political matter,” the release said.

The full text of the 2019 NDAA is slated to be released on Monday and will be examined and revised within the next few months before being voted on in Congress. The 2018 NDAA was introduced into Congress in June of last year before finally being signed into law by President Trump this past December.

Thornberry’s plan also includes cuts to 28 defense support agencies and field activities. The bill would order the Pentagon’s chief management officer to cut 25 percent from the “Fourth Estate,” a collection of agencies and activities not directly within the military services that make up a $100 billion annual budget.

Along with spending cuts, Thornberry also sought to eliminate seven agencies entirely: the Defense Technical Information Center, Defense Test Resource Management Center, Office of Economic Adjustment, Defense Technology Security Administration, Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Human Resources Activity and Washington Headquarters Services.

Thornberry claims that spending among the agencies has increased significantly over the last few years, which is negatively affecting decision-making at the Pentagon during a critical time of growing international threats.