The House of Representatives passed a new continuing resolution (CR) late Dec. 21 that would keep the federal government open until Jan. 19 and provide billions of dollars in emergency funding for missile defense and Navy ship repairs.

The CR (H.R. 1370), which was headed to the Senate for its consideration, would provide about $4 billion that the Trump administration requested in November for various ballistic missile defense efforts, including construction of another long-range interceptor field at Fort Greely, Alaska, to defend against growing North Korean threats. It also contains $673.5 million to repair two destroyers – the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62)-– that were damaged in recent collisions with other ships.

The USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). Photo: U.S. Navy.
The USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). Photo: U.S. Navy.

The defense funding is more targeted than an earlier CR proposal envisioned. House Republicans originally sought to fully fund defense – but not non-defense — for the rest of fiscal year 2018, but Democrats objected, saying defense and non-defense programs should be treated equally.

If the stopgap measure becomes law, it will be the third CR that Congress has passed for FY 2018. The first one lasted from Oct. 1 to Dec. 8, and the current one runs out Dec. 22.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the new legislation, which the House passed by a 231-188 vote, would give Congress more time to finish its 12 FY 2018 appropriations bills. But Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member, said the lack of a full-year spending package almost three months into the fiscal year is “an epic failure of governing,” and she criticized the CR for “slipping in” almost $5 billion for defense.

In other congressional news, the Senate Dec. 20 confirmed former Army official Bruce Jette to be assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, and former State Department official Randall Schriver to be assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs.

In addition, the Senate agreed to consider Jan. 3 the nomination of Lockheed Martin [LMT] executive John Rood to be undersecretary of defense for policy. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved Rood’s nomination in November despite concerns among some lawmakers about the number of Pentagon appointees who hail from top defense firms (Defense Daily, Nov. 30).