Defense Spending Bill Includes 3.1% Military Pay Raise, Child Care Facilities Funding

The U.S. Capitol building. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The U.S. Capitol building. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday approved a fiscal 2020 defense funding bill that would cover the cost of a 3.1% military pay raise.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee, would provide $690.2 billion for the Defense Department -- $8 billion below President Donald Trump's budget request, but $15.8 billion above the fiscal 2019 DoD budget. The $690.2 billion includes $68.1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds, or OCO.

Under the legislation, active-duty end-strength would be trimmed: The proposal supports 1,337,500 troops, 600 fewer than are currently serving and 2,000 fewer than the administration's request. It also would cut the reserve component by 16,900, the amount requested by the Pentagon.

On other personnel issues, the bill would provide $70.7 million to upgrade child care facilities on installations and direct the services to come up with "innovative ideas" to solve the shortage of quality child care services.

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It also would provide $920 million for medical research programs directed by Congress and furnish $297 million for sexual-assault prevention and response, an increase of $38 million above the administration's request.

"The subcommittee has sought throughout this legislative process to keep in mind the morale and quality of life of all our service members and their families. I believe we have taken tangible steps in this bill to refocus much-deserved attention on their issues of concern," said Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Indiana, who chairs the subcommittee.

Several programs would be bolstered if the legislation passes as written -- unlikely, given that it is one of four bills that ultimately guide future defense spending. However, large sections of it are expected to be included in the final measure, usually an amalgam that includes similar legislation from the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Senate and House Armed Services Committees also weigh in with legislation that directs policy issues.

Programs that may see increases next year include the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The proposed House bill would fund 90 F-35s, or a dozen more than the Pentagon's request. It also would fund 73 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; 14 V-22 Osprey aircraft and 16 C-130J aircraft, four more of each than the services asked for; and nine P-8A Poseidons, three more than requested.

The bill would fund 11 ships, including three DDG-51 guided missile destroyers, two SSN-774 attack submarines, one FFG frigate, a Ford-class aircraft carrier, two fleet oilers and two towing, salvage and rescue ships.

It also would pay for cannon and weapon stations for 86 Strykers and upgrade 165 M1A2 Abrams tanks.

"The bill ensures that our service members are trained and equipped to do their jobs safely and effectively and that they are prepared for future military needs," House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey, D-New York, said in a statement Wednesday.

The proposed bill places a number of restrictions on the defense budget, including limiting how the executive branch and the Defense Department can move money in accounts. It limits the amount to $1.5 billion, down from $9.5 billion.

The change is a direct response to the Trump administration's efforts to transfer money to fund a fence or wall along the southern border.

The bill also places an emphasis on environmental cleanup of military bases and former military sites, providing $1.26 billion -- $188 million more than requested -- for restoration, removal of unsafe property and debris, and hazardous waste disposal.

This includes $13 million to study and assess the extent of contamination from chemicals used in firefighting foam and stain-resistant materials called perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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