The fiscal 2019 defense and military construction spending bills funding Pentagon activities are on track to be signed by President Trump before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year, a landmark achievement by Congress that would allow the military to avoid operating under a stopgap spending measure for the first time in a decade. On Thursday, the House passed the conference report to a three-bill spending package covering the military construction-Veterans Affairs, energy-water and legislative branch appropriations bills, sending that measure to Trump. The president is expected to sign the fiscal 2019 minibus spending bill, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Later in the day, House and Senate conferees hashing out a two-bill package covering the defense and labor-HHS-education spending titles said they had completed a deal on a compromise measure. The Senate is expected to vote on that conference report next week, with the House voting during the last week of September, after returning from a week-long break, reported CQ. If both chambers clear the conference report by the end of the month and the president signs the package into law, it would be the first time since FY 2009 that defense operations were funded on time. The milcon bill was funded prior to the start of the fiscal year as recently as two years ago, however.
The defense component of the spending package would provide $674.4 billion in discretionary budget authority, including $606.5 billion for the base defense budget and $67.9 billion for the overseas contingency operations account. The base budget funding represents a $17 billion increase over the current year’s allocation.
The bill fully funds the administration’s requested 16,400 end-strength increase for FY 2019, including boosting active forces by 15,600 personnel. It also covers a 2.6 percent pay raise for the military.
The compromise bill boosts funding for operation and maintenance base requirements by $5.4 billion to $194 billion. That account supports key readiness programs, including flight time and battle training, equipment and facility maintenance, and base operations. The bill’s allocation includes $290 million above the budget request covering facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization programs, and $20.6 billion for depot maintenance, according to a House Appropriations summary.
The defense minibus also includes a continuing resolution running through Dec. 7 to avert a shutdown of agencies which do not receive a full-year appropriations bill by Oct. 1.
Army photo by Gertrud Zach