The House passed two fiscal year 2020 appropriations minibus bills Dec. 17, teeing up a vote in the Senate by the end of the week that would avert a government shutdown.
The national security appropriations minibus, H.R. 1158, includes over $860 billion and includes funding bills for defense, commerce-justice science, homeland security and financial services and general government. The House passed it Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 280-138, with 12 members not voting.
Sixty-two Republicans voted against the bill, as did 75 Democrats and the chamber’s sole Independent, Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.). The Senate expects to vote on the bill this week, before the current continuing resolution expires Dec. 20. The White House has been closely involved in negotiations via Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday the compromise bill satisfies White House and legislator priorities and benefits the American people and that he looks forward to supporting it.
“There are two timeless truths about the appropriations process in divided government,” he said in a floor speech Tuesday. “First, neither side will ever get what they consider to be perfect bills, but second, full-year funding definitely beats drifting endlessly from CR to CR.”
House appropriators on both sides of the aisle lauded the passage of the bill Tuesday.
“I am proud that we were able to come together, negotiate our differences, and reach a bipartisan agreement that makes investments to strengthen our nation and give every American a better chance at a better life,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) in a statement.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the HAC-defense subcommittee, said in a statement: “As the top Republican on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I’m proud of the work our Subcommittee accomplished and confident it will give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to carry out their missions.”
The bill includes $738 billion for defense spending, about $20 billion more than was appropriated the previous year. It includes $630.6 in base defense funding and nearly $71 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding. About $146 billion is allocated for military procurement and $105 billion in research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds.
One of the key elements of the bill is the allocation of funds to establish a new Space Force within the Air Force, reflecting authorizations set within the recently passed FY ’20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and fulfilling a major priority for the White House.
Appropriators elected to provide $40 million in operations and maintenance funding, $32 million less than was originally requested and citing “insufficient justification” in the report. The bill also requests additional reports on the Space Force within 30 days of the bill’s enactment to ensure lawmakers are “more fully informed” about the new service.
“The spend plan shall include, but not be limited to, funding for civilian personnel (including the number of full-time equivalents), supplies and materials and contract support,” the bill said.
For procurement, appropriators provided additional funds to the services over what they requested. The Army would receive $21.5 billion in procurement from a request of $15.8 billion; the Navy would receive $61.4 billion as opposed to $55 billion, while the Air Force would receive $45.4 billion as opposed to $42.7 billion. Total defense-wide procurement also saw a boost, from a $5.1 billion request to $5.3 billion in the final bill.
Overall RDT&E funding increased from $102.6 billion in the presidential budget request to $104.4 billion in the appropriations minibus, but the Army, Navy and DoD saw their RDT&E requests rise slightly, while the Air Force saw a slight reduction from their request.
The bill includes $100 million to stand up a Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, “to develop and implement an integrated science and technology roadmap for hypersonics and to establish a university consortium for hypersonics research and workforce development.” The undersecretary of defense for research and engineering is directed to submit a report to Congress within 90 days of the bill’s enactment and regular updates thereafter on the new roadmap’s development.
The House on Tuesday also passed the second FY ’20 minibus, H.R. 1865, by a vote of 297-120, with 13 lawmakers not voting. That bill includes the government’s domestic priorities and international assistance appropriations, and covers eight spending bills for Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, Agriculture, Energy and Water Development, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.