The House Appropriations defense subcommittee is considering a bill today that would provide $584.2 billion in defense base budget spending and would give the Navy additional ships and aircraft beyond its request.
This HAC-D bill strikes a middle ground between the $574.5 billion base budget spending level the Pentagon requested and the $640 billion the House Armed Services Committee is expected to authorize later this week. The HAC-D bill totals $658.1 billion for the Defense Department when $73.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding is added in.
The bill funds 11 ships: one aircraft carrier, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, two Virginia-class attack submarines, three Littoral Combat Ships, a T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ship, a T-AO 205 fleet oiler, and an Expeditionary Sea Base. This shipbuilding plan is two LCSs and an ESB beyond what the Navy had requested.
A committee staffer told USNI News that the additional ESB would provide the geographic combatant commanders with flexible options for counter-terrorism and counter-trafficking missions. Last year’s Force Structure Assessment called for the Navy building six ESBs, and buying one in 2018 would help maintain the industrial base and work towards that six-ship goal.
The HAC-D bill also provides $1.8 billion for the 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft that the Navy asked for – 14 in the service’s official budget request and 10 in its Unfunded Priorities List. It would also seven P-8A Poseidon aircraft, including the six from the budget request and one of the additional six listed in the UPL. And the bill includes funding for six Ship to Shore Connectors, including the three in the budget request and three of the five asked for in the UPL.
Overall, the bill would provide $17.9 billion for aircraft procurement, compared to the Navy’s request for $15 billion; $21.5 billion for shipbuilding, compared to the Navy’s request for $19.9 billion; the same $3.4 billion for weapons procurement the Navy requested; $735 million for ammunition, below the requested $792 million; and $1.8 billion for Marine Corps procurement, below the $2.1 billion requested.
The HAC-D bill funds operations and maintenance for all the services as $3.1 billion above the administration’s request and $24.1 billion above the Fiscal Year 2017 totals, according to a committee news release. At least a billion dollars of the additional funding would go to filling readiness shortfalls, and $500 million to invest in facility restoration and modernization efforts. $16.6 billion of that added funding would pay for depot maintenance for a range of aircraft and ground vehicles that are awaiting repairs and upgrades before returning to the fleet.
The bill funds a 2.4-percent pay raise for troops and funds research and development at $84.3 billion, a $10.3-billion increase over FY 2017.
The House Appropriations defense subcommittee will mark up the bill this evening in a closed session.
The House Armed Services Committee will mark up its Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday, and the Senate Armed Services Committee will mark up all its subcommittee and then full committee bills throughout this week.