The fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, which advanced out of the House Armed Services Committee Thursday morning, is scheduled to go to the chamber floor the week of May 21, said Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). The $716 billion measure includes a significant increase in military end strength and the largest military pay raise in nine years, reports Defense News.
The annual defense policy bill would boost the military’s active-duty end strength by 15,600, matching the Trump administration’s budget request from February. The bill’s recommendations match the targets proposed by the administration for each service:
- Army — 4,000 (to reach an end strength of 487,500)
- Navy — 7,500 (335,400)
- Marine Corps — 100 (186,100)
- Air Force — 4,000 (329,100)
The measure, H.R 5515, also includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January. With Congress agreeing to a two-year budget deal earlier this year, lawmakers’ efforts primarily focused on policy issues. One amendment approved by the committee would increase from 11 to 12 the required number of operational aircraft carriers in the Navy.
Lawmakers agreed to keep the greater sage grouse and the lesser prairie chicken from being listed under the Endangered Species Act for 10 years, reported CQ. Supporters of the amendment from Rob Bishop (R-Utah) argued that requiring the military to protect the two birds can restrict its ability to use its training ranges.
Army photo by Sgt. Arjenis Nunez