On Wednesday, 1 August, the Senate passed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. Senate passage (by a margin of 87-10) of the $771 billion, 1,800-page measure follows House passage of the same bill last Thursday by a margin of 359-54.
While FY19 Defense Appropriations bills have yet to be passed in Conference, yesterday’s Senate action marks a rare success for House and Senate Defense Authorizers in getting their spending bill on the desk of the President prior to the (30 September) end of the Fiscal Year. (The last time it happened was 2009.)
Among the provisions of this largest-ever defense Authorization Bill (base defense budget of $639 billion and $69 billion additionally to fund overseas contingency operations), which now goes to President Trump for his expected signature, are:
- It incorporates a 2.6% pay raise for the military in next January, the largest in a decade.
- It provides for a boost in military end strength of 15,600 service members, bringing the two year manpower growth total to 25,000.
- It provides $24.1 billion for shipbuilding to fully fund 13 new construction battle force ships and accelerate funding for several future ships, which is $2.2 billion more than the administration’s request.
- It authorizes the Coast Guard to enter into a contract or contracts for up to 5 additional polar- class heavy icebreakers and expresses the sense of Congress on actions that need to be taken to deliver 6 polar icebreakers by 2029.
- It authorizes an increase of more than $300 million above the DoD request for science, technology, and testing programs, including $75 million for university research.
- It eliminates funding for President Trump’s proposed independent “Space Force” as well as for the US Coast Guard’s new icebreaker.
- It limits spending on President Trump’s planned November military parade, blocking outlays for the participation of operational units, equipment, and vehicles if the Secretary of Defense determinate that their participation impedes military readiness.
- It eliminates restrictions on foreign countries buying US military equipment if they buy equipment from the Russians.
- It delays delivery of F-35 fighters to Turkey based on leadership concerns in that NATO nation.
- It allows the USAF to kill plans for JSTARS recapitalization, but restricts retirement of the existing E-8C JSTARS systems until a follow-on program is launched.
The committee summary of the final bill is available here.
The text of the Conference Report is available here.
The Joint Explanatory Statement is available here.