Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved the FY2017 Department of Defense Appropriations bill by a vote of 30-0.

SAC Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) said the bill “has broad bipartisan support” and “sustains a strong U.S. force structure, and it makes significant investments in readiness, shipbuilding programs, aircraft procurement, and missile defense.”

The SAC bill would provide $515.9 billion for the DoD base budget (excluding military construction), almost $2 billion less than the request, and $58.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the same amount as requested.  The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) approved its version of the bill last month.

Unlike the HAC bill the SAC funded OCO for the entire year (rather than through April 2017) and did not use OCO funding for base budget requirements.  The HAC bill used $15.7 billion in OCO for unrequested base requirements. To provide additional funding for committee priorities and unfunded needs identified by the military services, the SAC made over 450 specific cuts totaling $15.1 billion.

The SAC bill would fund a 1.6 percent military pay raise as proposed by the president and recommended by the  Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).  The HAC bill would fund a 2.1 percent military pay raise as authorized in the House-passed FY2017 Defense Authorization bill.

The SAC would fund the Defense Health Program (DHP) at $34 billion (and includes over $900 million more for defense medical research.

The bill includes funds to buy 10 ships: two Virginia class submarines; three DDG-51 destroyers; three Littoral Combat ships (LCS); an LHA amphibious assault ship; and a Polar Icebreaker.  The committee noted that the last U.S. icebreaker was funded in the FY1990 DoD Appropriation bill.  The Obama administration has planned to start icebreaker production ion 2020, according to the committee   But the SAC bill includes $1 billion in FY2017 for the first ship in the Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization Project due to “the strategic importance of polar operations to the nation’s future security.” 

The SAC bill would make significant increases to the administration’s request for aircraft, including:  12 F-18’s; four F-35’s (including two vertical take-off F-35s for the Marine Corps); 15 Blackhawk and 28 Lakota helicopters for the Army; two Air Force C-130J’s; and two Marine Corps MV-22 helicopters.

The committee would also add $454 million to the request for Israeli missile defense programs, for a total of $601 million.

No announcement was made regarding the timing of full Senate consideration of the FY2017 DoD Appropriations bill.