The ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee is looking to increase the topline of the next defense policy bill to $750 billion, with plans to introduce an amendment for an additional $17 billion in funding when his panel meets Wednesday to consider the proposal.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters Tuesday the chairman’s $733 billion fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act proposal falls short of requested funding levels, including for nuclear deterrence modernization and personnel items, and noted he was unsure how Republicans will likely vote on the final version of the bill.
“One of the things I wanted to make very clear, $750 [billion], which is right around three percent real growth, enables us to do very specific, concrete things that are important to national security,” Thornberry said. “Virtually everything in here was either in the original administration budget request or an unfunded requirement from the services. I stayed away from the most controversial stuff. There’s no wall money, and other lightning rods.”
Thornberry said the $17 billion in additional funding included in his amendment is intended to address cuts to “core military capabilities” in the current proposed mark, which was released Monday.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the HASC chairman, discussed his committee’s $733 billion mark with reporters on Monday which he said met funding levels anticipated by senior Pentagon leadership while acknowledging disagreements with his Republican colleagues over issues including a decision to cut funding for development of a low-yield nuclear weapon (Defense Daily, June 10).
Thornberry detailed his concern with the current proposal’s approach to nuclear deterrence modernization citing the low-yield ban, a reduction in funds for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program and cuts to nuclear infrastructure programs.
“I have not reached a decision, nor do I think any members on my side of the aisle have reached a decision on how to vote on final passage,” Thornberry said. “But we will have an amendment to deal with low-yield. We will have an amendment to deal with ground-based strategic deterrent. I put money in my amendment to put money back into the nuclear infrastructure.”
The ranking member’s amendment specifically includes $120 million for projects such as GBSD, $707 million for nuclear infrastructure activities and $441 million for ballistic missile defense.
Beyond nuclear deterrence, Thornberry’s amendment includes an additional $750 million for six F-35s, $1.2 billion for personnel accounts and $2.3 billion for disaster relief efforts at Tyndall and Offutt Air Force Bases as well as Camp Lejeune Marine Base.
While Thornberry said his amendment will not include funds for the border wall, there is $3.6 billion designated to backfill military construction accounts reprogrammed for wall construction.
HASC will meet Wednesday to consider amendments and mark-up its FY ’20 NDAA proposal.