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A Nation Defended Well

July 2, 2018
Weekly Columns
As the leader on the global stage, the United States is re-entering an era of military preeminence. Our nation’s military needs to be restored to advance America’s competitive military advantage to rival those of nation’s like China and Russia, as stated in the recent National Defense Strategy. We now believe that the greatest threat to America is not terrorism, but the reemergence of great power rivals like China and Russia. We need a military not only designed to defeat terrorists, but to counter the modern militaries of Russia and China, and regional powers like North Korea and Iran.
Congress has the responsibility to rebuild and supply the U.S. military through the annual Defense Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Defense and the military branches, in line with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For the past two fiscal years, each Defense Appropriations bills has marked the largest increases in defense spending in a generation. These investments will support the National Defense Strategy, and the goal to counter growing global threats. This year’s bill also includes provisions to innovate technology, improve weapons and machinery, expand troop numbers, build training programs and provide for servicemembers and their families. It is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will support the need for a robust, ready military.
Overall, this year’s Defense Appropriations measures is consistent with the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019 and the 2018 Budget Agreement. It allows for $674.6 billion in total funding. This includes $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding – an increase of $17.1 billion above the Fiscal Year 2018 enacted level. Additionally, it ensures the military has adequate resources to continue Overseas Contingency Operations and the Global War on Terrorism efforts with a total of $68.1 billion in resources ranging from operational needs, equipment, personnel requirements and support for key allies.
The largest benefit of this spending bill is that is restores military readiness to its highest levels. The bill provides for $295.9 billion for troop training, vigorous maintenance programs and base operations. These funds are crucial to the day-to-day operations at places like Tinker Air Force Base in my district, which oversees key logistics and maintenance for Air Force aircraft and machinery. Also key to my district are programs like the Paladin PIM weapons system at Fort Sill Army Post, which received $150 million in funding. Additionally, the bill includes $92.4 billion for research and development, which supports the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, space security programs and nuclear force modernization. And to further the scope of the military, the bill allows for $145.7 billion for procurement to provide weapons, platforms and resources including 12 Navy ships, 93 F-35 aircraft, 24 Super Hornets, 58 Black Hawk helicopters and 66 Apaches. Lastly, the bill will fulfill the request for a 16,400 end-strength increase.
One of the fundamental parts of building a robust military is taking care of the servicemembers themselves. This year’s defense appropriations bill delivers on that promise. It provides for the authorized 2.6% pay raise for our troops – the largest pay raise in nine years. Furthermore, the bill includes $34.4 billion for the Defense Health Program, which provides care for our troops, their families and for retirees.
Having a well-funded military is essential to our national security and the protection of our democracy. This Fourth of July, we will celebrate our beautiful nation that is defended by thousands of men and women in uniform that took the oath and sacrifice to serve. We are forever grateful for their service, and will forever continue to support their mission and success.