Lawmakers are “on track” to unveil the fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations conference report sometime during the week of March 12-16, a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee said March 9.

Negotiators have been working for weeks to combine 12 individual appropriations bills for defense and other programs into a single package. They were expected to continue their efforts over the March 10-11 weekend. Capitol at night---cropped---MS photo

The House-passed FY 2018 defense appropriations bill would provide $659.2 billion for defense. The Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a $651 billion version, which never received a vote in the gridlocked Senate.

Among the matters to be resolved with the omnibus is whether the Pentagon, which is poised to get an increase of tens of billions of dollars over FY 2017, will receive flexibility to spend that extra money beyond the six-plus months remaining in FY 2018.

In addition, supporters of the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II have been urging appropriators to provide funding to buy new wings for the aging but heavily used close-air-support aircraft (Defense Daily, Dec. 18, 2017). They say the Air Force will have to start grounding some of its A-10s this year if the old wings are not replaced.

The federal government is currently operating under its fifth FY 2018 continuing resolution, which runs out March 23.

Also during the coming week, Congress is slated to hold a series of hearings to continue examining the Pentagon’s FY 2019 budget request, which was unveiled Feb. 12.

Topics for the March 13-15 hearings include the Air Force and Army budgets; Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs; cybersecurity; Defense Department science and technology programs; national security space programs; space warfighting readiness; and U.S. Africa, Central, European and Pacific Commands.