Senate Passes CR, House Passes Def Policy Bill
They did it. But Not Quite. Late Friday night, the U.S. Senate passed the continuing resolution funding the Pentagon at FY-10 levels through the 21st. This came a day after Senate democrats dropped their effort to push through a trillion dollar spending package for FY-11 that included $667.7 billion in defense cash.
The Senate is expected to vote on a version of the CR tomorrow that would extend funding into the new year.
Meanwhile, the House passed its version of the defense authorization bill, allowing the Defense Department to spend $725 billion for FY-11.
Here are some of the main provisions of the House bill, pretty much unchanged from what reported last week after the House Armed Services Committee released a summary of the proposed legislation.
$282 billion in readiness dollars going toward operation and maintenance of military gear and facilities, a 12 billion increase over last year’s O&M authorization.
Another $60 billion is going toward the Navy and Marine Corps procurement coffers, with $18 billion of that money dedicated to buying the two services 206 aircraft. The bill also includes some sharp language telling the Department of the Navy to get its act together in dealing with a potential fighter gap caused by delays in fielding the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“It is estimated that by FY 2017, the Navy and Marine Corps inventory could be at least 250 aircraft short of requirements — the equivalent of five carrier air wings,” reads the House summary of the bill. “This is an unacceptable outcome, and Congress will not support future budget requests that fail to address” the shortfall.
It goes on to say that in the coming years, lawmakers expect to see future budget requests continue “production of F-18s to prevent our naval airpower from losing significance in our nation’s arsenal” unless the F-35 program can completely right itself.
The bill also calls on the Navy to move ahead with a new presidential helicopter replacement program, albeit with heavy GAO monitoring to try to avoid a repeat of the VH-71 fiasco.
It also contains $16 billion in shipbuilding funds, fully funds the Marine Corps’ $3.1 billion procurement request “to help protect our Marines during combat operations” and “supports” the continued development of the Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
Meanwhile, the bill authorizes $78 billion for Army and Air Force spending. It fully funds the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle with $461 million while requiring the Pentagon to come up with a solid plan for the F-35; linking JSF production to design, testing, manufacturing and fielding milestones.
The bill does not, prevent the Pentagon from pursuing the F136 alternate engine program for the F-35 despite the fact that the Defense Department says it has no need for two engines for the plane. It also does not specifically tell the Pentagon to fund the alternate engine. It just ducks the issue. We’ll see what happens.
Here’s a summary of the HASC Authorization bill.
Here’s a summary of the Senate’s CR.