The Senate passed the nearly $700 billion fiscal year 2018 defense authorization conference report by voice vote Nov. 16, sending it to President Donald Trump for his consideration.

After the vote, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged Trump “to sign this important legislation into law — and in doing so acknowledge that this is the level of defense spending necessary to meet current threats, prepare for the challenges of an increasingly dangerous world, and keep faith with our men and women in uniform.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee

The conference report, which the House approved Nov. 14 by a 356-70 vote (Defense Daily, Nov. 14), includes $26.2 billion for 14 Navy ships, $12.3 billion for the Missile Defense Agency and $10.1 billion for 90 Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.

The legislation also would streamline Air Force and Defense Department space management, such as by making Air Force Space Command the sole authority for organizing, training and equipping Air Force space forces (Defense Daily, Nov. 8).

But McCain and other senators cautioned that total defense spending authorized by the bill will be slashed by about $85 billion unless Congress reaches an agreement to lift the budget caps required by the Budget Control Act of 2011

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that he plans to unveil the chairman’s mark for the FY 2018 defense appropriations bill next week. But he cautioned that “at the funding cap currently in law, the Appropriations Committee would be hard-pressed to write a 2018 defense bill that fully meets our national security needs or reflects the priorities of the Senate.”

The House passed its version of the defense appropriations bill in July (Defense Daily, July 27).