After a brief floor debate, the House late Nov. 14 passed the $700 billion fiscal year 2018 defense authorization conference report by a 356-70 vote.
Proponents hailed the conference report (H.R. 2810) for, among other things, adding billions of dollars to the Trump administration’s request to replace aging aircraft and ships and boost missile defense.
“We have planes that can’t fly, ships that can’t sail and soldiers who can’t deploy, all while the number of threats around the world keeps rising,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), a member of the House Armed Services and Rules Committees. The bill would “begin reversing the readiness crisis that has endangered the lives of our service members and made it harder to defend our country.”
But Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, warned that a “lingering issue” is that the legislation’s base funding will be slashed by roughly $80 billion if Congress does not block the return of federal budget caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
“As good as this bill is, it doesn’t get implemented in full unless we lift those budget caps and get an appropriations deal,” Smith testified before the Rules Committee late Nov. 13. “As we sit here in mid-November, we’re not there.”
The conference report, which House and Senate negotiators finalized last week, includes more than $634 billion in base funding and almost $66 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO) (Defense Daily, Nov. 8).
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) welcomed changes to a Senate proposal that would require companies to pay the Defense Department’s administrative costs when they lose contract-award protests filed with the Government Accountability Office.
“In the final legislation, this was changed to a three-year pilot program, with a specific sunset date, to determine the effectiveness of such a procedure,” AIA said in a press release Nov. 14. “We believe this pilot program will demonstrate the negative effects on DoD’s acquisition process if industry is discouraged from filing legitimate bid protests.”
The Senate has not yet indicated when it will take up the conference report.