The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act — the Pentagon’s budget for next year — has just been introduced to the House of Representatives, and it includes a number of provisions over and above President Obama’s original request — a fact that could cause the bill to hit a few speed bumps as it makes its way through the Senate, to the White House, and then back to the Hill again. According to a Washington Examiner report, Democratic lawmakers and Obama have stated that they won’t approve any defense budget increases without comparable increases in non-defense spending, and it doesn’t appear Republicans have any to offer up.
The current version of the NDAA making its way through the House includes the following:
- A 2.1 percent pay raise for military personnel (1.6 percent more than the president requested)
- Funding for 63 F-35s
- A boost to military end strength (476,000 soldiers, 16,000 more than original NDAA requested; 321,000 airmen, 4,000 more than requested; and 185,000 Marines, 3,000 more than requested)
- Provisions to make Cyber Command its own combatant command rather than part of Strategic Command
- Authorization to give visas to 1,500 Afghan interpreters
- Permission to use Russian rocket engines to get space while American engineers work on a domestic alternative
The current version of the bill removes the controversial Russell Amendment, that critics claimed used government dollars to sanction discrimination by race, gender, and sexual orientation. Republicans agreed to leave the language out of the final bill because “new paths have opened up to address those issues” because of Trump’s election, according to the Washington Examiner report.
All of this activity comes just weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration, and while on the stump during his candidacy, he was adamant that he intended to boost military spending and “take care of the troops.”