Yesterday, the full House Appropriations Committee (HAC) approved the FY2015 Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations bill. The HAC bill would provide $491 billion for the DoD base budget (excluding military construction), $200 million higher than the president’s request.
The HAC bill also includes $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in FY2015. This amount is the same as the placeholder request included in the president’s budget. The White House has recently announced its plan for reducing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan and is expected to submit a detailed OCO request soon.
Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) called the bill “fiscally responsible” and said it reflects current and future threats. “By prioritizing the security of the American people, the readiness of our military, and the health and well-being of our brave warfighters, this bipartisan legislation will help create a safer America,” he said.
The HAC bill would fund a 1.8 percent military pay raise that is authorized in the House-passed FY2015 Defense Authorization bill. The president’s budget requests a 1 percent pay raise for military personnel. The bill rejects the administration’s proposal to reduce the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
The bill would fund the Defense Health Program (DHP) at $31.6 billion, $360 million below the request. The bill would also add $100 million to the Defense Commissary Agency funding level. The president’s budget request proposed a cut in the subsidy to commissary operations.
Funding in the HAC bill for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) programs would total $165 billion, $1.4 billion below the request. Within the amount provided in the bill, an additional $1.2 billion is provided for readiness shortfalls and $791 million to restore funding cuts to facility sustainment and modernization. Offsetting some of these increases are savings from favorable foreign currency fluctuations ($547 million) and overestimated civilian personnel costs ($592 million). The committee also cut about $900 million from O&M accounts for what it called “unjustified program growth.”
The bill would provide $91.2 billion for procurement programs, $1.6 billion more than the request. Included in the bill are funds to build six new ships, buy 38 F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) and 7 KC-46A tankers, 12 EA-18G Growlers, 87 H-60 Blackhawk and 37 MH-60S/R helicopters. The HAC rejects the administration’s proposal to delay a decision on refueling the USS George Washington aircraft carrier until 2016 and provides $789 million for the refueling.
The HAC bill approves the administration’s request to retire the A-10 aircraft. The committee defeated an amendment offered by Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA) to fund the program in FY2015. Both the House-passed and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) versions of the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill would keep the program alive. The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has not yet acted on the DoD appropriations bill.
Funding in the bill for research and development (R&D) would be $63.4 billion, $171 million below the president’s request. Programs receiving R&D funding include: a new Air Force bomber, next generation JSTARS, Future Unmanned Carrier-based Strike System, Army Ground Combat Vehicle, and Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
No date has been set for House floor action on the DoD appropriations bill.