Capitol Commentary: the 2017 Omnibus Spending Package

Published: 5/3/17

Congressional negotiators curtailed President Donald Trump’s proposed defense buildup in the spending agreement to fund the government through September 30.

Trump had asked for a $30 billion budget adjustment for the Pentagon. Negotiators agreed to just about half of the supplemental spending request: about $15 billion, with the money going into the Pentagon’s war account, which is not subject to budget caps. But Congress would withhold $2.5 billion of that until the administration delivers a new plan to defeat Islamic State terrorists.

The legislation headed for a floor vote this week would provide money for 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets made by Boeing Co. That is 12 more of the fighter jets than the Defense Department initially requested, though it is only half of the 24 sought by Trump.

Negotiators treated some of Trump’s supplemental military request as duplicative because of overlap with decisions already made for the regular defense spending bill, H.R. 1301. For instance, lawmakers had already agreed to increase spending on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an additional destroyer ship made by General Dynamics Corp. and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., and more Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters.

For the catch-all spending bill intended to keep the government fully operating after Friday, lawmakers directed the war funds mostly toward military readiness.

They allotted:

  • $2.9 billion for training and exercises;
  • $889 million for maintenance of aircraft, ships, and combat vehicles;
  • $859 million for repairs to facilities needed to improve readiness;
  • $1.6 billion for additional U.S. military operations against Islamic State, and
  • $626 million for additional training and equipping funding for coalition partners in operations against Islamic State.

Overall Funding

The omnibus spending measure would provide $592.7 billion for the Pentagon, including $516 billion in regular defense spending and $76.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, or war funding. It would provide $108.4 billion for weapons and equipment procurement, or about $6.4 billion more than the $102 billion approved for fiscal 2016. The Navy would see the biggest bump — a $4.8 billion increase over last year to $48.8 billion.

Troops

To stave off planned reductions, the measure would fund an active-duty U.S. military force of 1,305,900 and a Guard and Reserve force of 813,200. To do that, appropriators added $1.6 billion. They also included a pay raise of 2.1 percent for the military after President Barack Obama’s administration had requested a 1.6 percent increase. The measure also would stipulate that there are sufficient funds for a civilian pay raise of 2.1 percent.

Aircraft

The measure would provide $1.1 billion for the purchase of 14 Boeing Super Hornet fighters, while Lockheed would receive $8.2 billion for 74 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 11 more than requested by the Pentagon. A Lockheed unit, Sikorsky, also would benefit from the measure, with $1.1 billion for 62 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Boeing also would benefit from $774 million for 52 re-manufactured AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and $262 million for seven new Apaches. The agreement also includes $187 million for 28 Lakota light utility helicopters made by Airbus Group.

Ships

The bill would provide $1.78 billion to accelerate the production of an additional LPD-17 amphibious ship made by Huntington Ingalls; would add $433 million for an additional DDG-51 destroyer made by General Dynamics and Huntington, and would add $475 million for a third Littoral Combat Ship not requested by the Navy. The LCS is built in two versions by teams led by Lockheed and Austal Ltd. In a nod to the Arctic — a strategic region where the U.S. competes with Russia– appropriators also included $150 million for advance procurement of materials for a Coast Guard ice breaker.

Cyber

The agreement includes $6.7 billion for cyberspace activities, or about $1 billion over last year, along with a new requirement that the Pentagon report to congressional committees “all offensive and significant defensive military operations” in cyberspace not later than 30 days after the end of each fiscal quarter.

Israel

The spending agreement would boost Israeli missile defense programs by $455 million over the Pentagon’s budget request, according to the House Appropriations Committee’s press release. The agreement would provide $600.7 million for Israeli missile defense programs, including $332 million for equipment procurement and $269 million in research and development.

John Zang Contributed to this report

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