Defense Spending Deal

The conference report for the Pentagon spending bill — the one that was agreed to Thursday and paired with stopgap spending for much of the rest of the government — was released late Thursday. Lawmakers cheered the deal, which will avert a shutdown.

On Friday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) touted the bill as breaking a cycle of continuing resolutions for the Pentagon.

“For nine years, Congress has failed in its basic duty to fund the troops on time and give them the certainty they need,” he said in a statement. “That decade of continuing resolutions and thoughtless cuts has sapped our strength and emboldened our enemies. This agreement breaks that cycle, shows Congress doing its job, and keeps faith with the men and women in uniform.”

Here are some of the highlights of what made it in:

Dollars: The $674.4 billion bill breaks down into $606.5 billion in base funding and $67.9 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.

Equipment: As reported earlier, the bill would fund three littoral combat ships (LCS) and 93 F-35 fighter jets.

That’s compared to the one LCS and 77 F-35s the administration requested, and aligns with the original House-passed spending bill.

Troops: The bill matches the administration’s request for 15,600 more active-duty troops and 800 more reserve troops.

The original House-passed bill followed the administration’s request. But the Senate’s bill would have only added 6,961 new troops, all active-duty.

Turkey and the F-35: The bill aligns with the annual defense policy bill on halting delivery of F-35s to Turkey.

It will block funding for the delivery until the Pentagon completes an assessment on U.S.-Turkish relations.

That’s watered down from the original Senate-passed bill, which would have blocked funding until the Pentagon certifies Turkey is not buying the Russian S-400 air-defense system.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sponsored the original Senate provision, expressed disappointment Friday.

“The language in the bill falls short of what is needed to prevent our national security from being compromised,” he said in a statement. “While President Trump has taken action to attempt to gain the release of Americans unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government, he has not told President Erdogan that Turkey’s purchase of Russian defense systems will undermine NATO’s security. That is why Congress must not equivocate on this issue. Unfortunately, when given the chance to deliver President Erdogan a strong message, the Congress blinked.”

H/T to The Hill

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