President Signs Defense Appropriations Bill
President George W. Bush signed into law a $417.5 billion defense bill for fiscal year 2005 on August 5. He said that breakthroughs have made warfare more precise, thus reducing battlefield casualties and added, "This bill continues that progress by funding the technologies that are changing the way we fight wars in order to keep the peace."
The new law is a $25 billion increase over last year's defense act. Congress still has to pass the fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization bill before the Department of Defense can spend the money, except for the $25 billion Emergency Wartime Appropriation for current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The law includes a 3.5 percent pay raise for servicemembers, the elimination of out-of-pocket housing expenses and continued funding for military Transformation. The Defense Health Program is also fully funded with $18.2 billion. Walter Reed Army Medical Center will receive $19.2 million to improve amputee care. Readiness factors, such as tank miles and flying hours, are fully funded to ensure the forces are trained for the global war on terrorism. Research and development will receive almost $70 billion, including money for continued development of unmanned aerial vehicles and the Army's Future Combat System.
The new law also provides $1.5 billion above the President's original budget request to recapitalize combat vehicles and helicopters and to procure ammunition. The money funds the fielding of an additional Army Stryker brigade, the modernization of the Bradley fighting vehicle and the purchase of eight more Chinook and 12 Black Hawk helicopters for the National Guard. More than $121 billion will go towards operations and maintenance accounts. Missile defense programs will receive $10 billion. About $4.6 billion will go to a ground-based missile defense program and almost $1 billion for the Patriot-3 theater missile systems.
The President concluded his remarks by saying, "By taking care of our service people in uniform, by addressing the threats of today, by preparing for the threats of tomorrow, this bill will help make America a safer place. …