Wednesday, Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D. (R-TN-04) voted to boost troops’ numbers, pay, training, and equipment in the 2017 Defense Appropriations bill that passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin. The $584 billion defense spending measure for this fiscal year is the first of a series of appropriations bills the House will likely pass before April 28 – the date the continuing spending resolution expires.
The final vote tally was 371-48, with five Republicans and forty-three Democrats voting to oppose.
The military funding bill reverses the Obama Administration’s proposed troop reductions and includes $1.6 billion over the previous president’s budget request. President Donald Trump and the new Republican Congress have made rebuilding the U.S. military a centerpiece of their agenda, along with a stronger foreign policy to deter aggression.
Politico reported on some specific line items of the bill:
It notably includes a $6.8 billion boost in procurement funding above the Obama administration’s final fiscal 2017 budget request, including more fighters, helicopters and ships. That includes $979 million for 12 Boeing-made F/A-18 Super Hornets, $750 million for six additional Navy and Marine Corps F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and $495 million for five extra Air Force F-35s.
Appropriators also added nearly $3 billion for Navy shipbuilding, including $1.8 billion for an LPD-17 amphibious ship, $433 million for the DDG-51 destroyer program, a third Littoral Combat Ship and $150 million in advance procurement for a new polar icebreaker.
The bill also funds provisions in the defense policy bill that mandate more active-duty troops in the Army and Marine Corps as well as a 2.1 percent military pay raise.
In addition to the full-year defense spending bill, the Pentagon is preparing a separate supplemental spending request of about $30 billion for fiscal 2017 that is expected to boost readiness funding.
“Our troops are overextended, confronting a number of different, dangerous situations from Europe to the Middle East and Asia. Organized, violent terrorism has increased. Russia invaded Eastern Europe, and China has become more assertive in the Pacific, as well as more technologically advanced,” said Rep. Desjarlais.
“Weak budget requests, conflicting messages, and a strategy of ‘leading from behind’ has taken its toll over eight years, but we’re correcting course with this bill and other policy changes,” he added.
Rep. DesJarlais serves on the HASC Readiness Subcommittee, overseeing troop preparedness and installations, and explained military branches have sacrificed training, repairs, and fighting strength to continually deploy. Wednesday’s bill adds 1,000 active troops to the Army, National Guard, Reserve and Marine Corps “in order to relieve and restructure units to meet global demands,” said Rep. DesJarlais.