WASHINGTON — The House Armed Services defense policy bill unveiled its $696.5 billion defense policy bill on Monday, which reflects an emerging deal among House Republican leaders but falls short what pro-defense lawmakers sought.
Bipartisan budget deals have become the norm in recent years. Todd Harrison, a budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he would not read too much into the various defense top-lines because, “they don’t mean much without a corresponding agreement with Democrats — particularly Senate Democrats — to raise the BCA budget caps.”
The HASC bill’s top-line includes $621.5 billion in base-budget dollars and $75 billion in the overseas contingency operations wartime account, or OCO, which is exempt from budget caps. The HASC draft bill hews to the House Budget Committee number.
The House Appropriations Committee is set this week to consider a $658.1 billion defense bill, which contains $584.2 billion in base funding and $73.9 billion in OCO.
The HASC proposal unveiled Monday would add 17 Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets above the Trump request for a total of 70; It adds eight Boeing-made Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets for a total of 22, and it adds six P-8A Poseidon aircraft for a total of 13.
For Navy shipbuilding programs, the bill adds one more DDG-51 for a total of three destroyers; it adds two littoral combat ships for a total of three, and it adds an unrequested expeditionary sea base.
For the Army, it adds 17,000 Army troops, and upgrades 29 more Abrams tanks and 33 more Bradley fighting vehicles, among other hardware.
The proposal funds a 2.4 percent pay raise for troops, above the 2.1 percent pay raise Trump requested.
The chairman’s mark also shifts the European Deterrence Initiative, previously known as the European Reassurance Initiative, from OCO to the base budget. The bill also requires DoD to provide a four-year plan for the fund.