Congress approves $618 billion Pentagon budget for 2017

Backed by 92 senators, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sailed through the upper chamber of Congress on Thursday following earlier approval by the House of Representatives, funding the Pentagon through next summer.

The U.S. Department of Defense will receive $618.7 billion for fiscal year 2017, which ends Sept. 30.

At odds with the House version of the bill, the measure approved by the Senate strips the Navy of 25 additional aircraft and greatly reduces the Navy’s planned budget for the construction of new ships.

To offset cuts from the larger House bill, the NDAA passed by the Senate includes modest increases to troop levels in the Army from 460,000 to 475,000 and in the Marine Corps from 182,000 to 185,000.

Also included in the bill is a 2.1 percent pay increase for troops effective Jan. 1, 2017, the first time in five years the military has received a raise comparable to the private sector.

Similarly, the bill will place a ceiling on the of number of employees at the National Security Council at 200; will reduce the number of general officers; and will extend the term of the Joint Chiefs chairman from two to four years.

Although the bill was passed by wide margins in both chambers of Congress, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest did not reveal whether President Obama would sign the bill when asked at a White House briefing prior to the measure’s approval in the Senate.

The White House requested $3.2 billion less than the approved NDAA bill provides.

An anonymous GOP congressional aide told Politico that Republican Donald Trump’s election has validated the arguments made by defense hawks in the House and Senate that the Pentagon needs more, not less, funding.

“I certainly think history has proven them right,” the aide said. “The premise always was, don’t get rid of this stuff, because the world is still dangerous and we’re going to need it. We’re moving into an era where the country has spoken and seems to agree with that.”

 

[Reuters] [Politico]