The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) announced March 29 that it plans to begin considering the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill in late April.
All six of its subcommittees are scheduled to conduct their markups on April 26, the committee said. Readiness will go first, followed by emerging threats and capabilities, military personnel, tactical air and land forces, seapower and projection forces, and strategic forces. The full committee will mark up the bill May 9.
Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the HASC’s chairman and ranking Democrat, told the House Budget Committee in a recent 11-page letter that they intend to continue their focus on restoring military readiness and reforming the Department of Defense.
To address low aircraft availability rates, “we must invest in the near-term readiness recovery of the aviation community through adequate funding of depot and unit level maintenance as well as the building up [of] the supply of parts and spares,” the letter says. “At the same time, it is important that we invest in the future aviation readiness through the procurement of fifth-generation strike fighters that will be capable of penetrating enemy air defenses.”
The letter also backs continued funding for the Air Force’s new B-21 bomber and KC-46A tanker to replace aging aircraft, and supports growing the size of the Army, Marine Corps and Navy.
Under a two-year budget agreement that became law in February, defense spending is set to total $716 billion in FY 2019, up from $700 billion in FY 2018. But the FY 2018 omnibus appropriations bill was not enacted until nearly six months into the fiscal year, and the letter seeks to avoid a repeat of that in FY 2019.
The agreement “provided the department with the increases” that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis requested, the letter says. “However, Congress will need to follow the fiscal cycle through to conclusion by properly providing [FY 2019] appropriations in a timely manner for the department to execute these funds effectively.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee has not yet announced its markup schedule.