The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday fired the opening salvo in the battle over defense dollars with the release of a proposed blueprint for the coming fiscal year that funds a number of weapons systems, provides new security assistance to Ukraine and includes a number of hot-button policy provisions as well.
Included in the $761.681 billion package are measures to prevent withholding leave for military members seeking an abortion, providing funds for renaming bases named after Confederate leaders, and repairing schools on military installations, among other programs.
The fiscal 2023 defense appropriations bill “is a responsible investment in our national security that will keep our nation strong and the American people safe,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the Appropriations panel’s defense subcommittee.
Procurement is the largest chunk of the budget at $143.9 billion. The figure amounts to a decrease of $1 billion below the FY2022 level. The spending bill will fund more than 60 F-35 Lightning II fighters; along with the request for B-21 Raider procurement and 18 F-15 EX fighters to recapitalize the Air Force’s F-15 C/D fleet, according to lawmakers.
The committee said it held 18 hearings — both public and closed — to gather information from the Biden administration before writing the legislation.
The House bill also prohibits the Pentagon from decommissioning five Littoral Combat Ships and directs the creation of a report on alternate uses, such as missions in Latin America-focused U.S. Southern Command or U.S. Africa Command. It would also provide $1 billion to empty the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii, site of an embarrassing leak last year for the Navy, and pay for improvements to the infrastructure.
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