House, Senate Panel Advance FY’19 Defense Spending Bills

House, Senate Panel Advance FY’19 Defense Spending Bills

The House on Thursday easily passed a fiscal 2019 defense spending bill which would provide $606.5 billion for base defense and intelligence programs and $68.1 billion for the overseas contingency operations account, a total that is $20 billion above the current year’s allocation. The measure covers an increase in active-duty end strength of 15,600 across the four services. The base budget figure would represent a historic high in defense spending since World War II, after adjusting for inflation and excluding past spending on the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, reported CQ.

On Wednesday the chamber adopted an amendment by Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) to permit the Navy to contract for construction of two new aircraft carriers next year instead of one, a move that could eventually save taxpayers as much as $2.5 billion, reported Defense News. On Thursday, though, the chamber rebuffed an amendment from the two lawmakers to shift more than $1 billion from other defense programs to the Virginia-class submarine program in an effort to accelerate the rate at which the Navy acquires new submarines. DOD opposed reallocating the funds, saying it would reduce planned purchases of other types of ships next year while raising shipbuilding costs over time.

Earlier Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its own defense spending bill, which would provide almost precisely the same total amount of money, $675 billion, reported the Hill.

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate

Dan Cohen
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