Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill
The Senate has passed the fiscal year (FY) 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill, which authorizes $648.8 billion in funding. Included in the figure is approximately $150 billion to continue Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. An amendment to the bill, which passed by a vote of 92-3 in October, boosts funding for mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) by $23.6 billion, from $4.6 billion to $28.2 billion. That revised amount would fund 23,000 MRAPs; 18,000 of the armored vehicles would go to the Army.
The Pentagon funding bill promises an increase of nearly $40 billion for core military programs in FY 2008. That increase is separate from the funds the Pentagon is seeking to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Total defense-related spending in the coming year is expected to exceed $650 billion, 11 percent more than current levels. The following are among the bill's spending provisions.
* Military personnel-$105.5 billion to cover a 3.5 percent basic pay increase for all servicemembers and civilian personnel and an increased end strength of 13,000 for the Army; 5,000 for the Army Reserve; and 1,300 for the Army National Guard.
* Army reserve component equipment-$1 billion.
* Defense health-$23.5 billion to add $73 million to fund programs authorized in the Dignified Treatment of the Wounded Warrior Act and $240 million for research on breast, prostate and ovarian cancers.
* Operation and maintenance-$141.9 billion to fully fund readiness programs critical to preparing forces for combat operations as well as various peacetime missions.
* Procurement-$98.2 billion to fully fund four Joint cargo aircraft, 16 armed reconnaissance helicopters, 52 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 44 UH-72 Lakota helicopters, 29 CH-47 Chinook helicopters, 12 F-35 Joint strike fighter aircraft, advance procurement funding for 16 F-35 aircraft in FY 2009 and various Army aircraft survivability equipment; weapons and missiles (Patriot PAC-3 Purefleet program, TRIDENT II D-5 LE program, Tomahawk procurement, Hellfire procurement, Javelin procurement and small-diameter bomb procurement); vehicles and force protection (including Army and Marine Corps "Grow the Force" initiatives, Army Humvee and tactical vehicles, Army Stryker program, and initial procurement of Future Combat Systems equipment); advance procurement of an additional advanced-extremely-high frequency communications satellite and training range readiness initiatives. …