Defense Summary

Washington, D.C. – The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019, provides $606.3 billion for the base budget of the Department of Defense, and $67.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Defense, said:

The priority of this defense bill is supporting our troops and their families in the field and at home.  At the same time, our bill is geared towards innovation, with record levels of funding for research and development and medical research, which I’m hopeful will lead to the breakthroughs of tomorrow.  This bill shows what Democrats and Republicans can accomplish when we work across the aisle to solve problems.”

Key Points & Highlights

The conference agreement complies with the spending limits established by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. 

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019, emphasizes the following priorities:

  • Innovation, Technological Superiority, and Medical Research
    • The conference agreement provides $94.9 billion in the base budget for research and development programs.  This is an increase of $3.8 billion compared to the President’s 2019 budget request, $6.6 billion compared to 2018 levels, and 31 percent compared to 2017.
  • Advanced military technologies --  Compared to the President’s budget request, the conference agreement increases investments in hypersonics research (+$617 million), next-generation microelectronics (+$397 million), directed energy (+$184 million), artificial intelligence/machine learning (+$147 million), and basic research (+$283 million)
  • The conference agreement provides $135.4 billion for procurement to modernize our military capabilities.  This is an increase of $4.8 billion compared to the President’s 2019 budget request, $1.5 billion compared to 2018 levels, and 25 percent compared to 2017.
  • Aircraft -- The conference agreement includes $9.43 billion for 93 F-35 Lightning II aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps; $452 million for 18 Apache helicopters and $1.1 billion for 57 Black Hawk helicopters for the Army; $1 billion for six E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes for the Navy; $100 million to accelerate procurement of the O/A-X Air Force Light Attack Aircraft; $675 million for eight C-130 transport aircraft; $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18 aircraft for the Navy; and $2.3 billion for 15 KC-46 tankers for the Air Force.
  • Shipbuilding -- The conference agreement provides $24.1 billion for shipbuilding, and includes $1.6 billion for three Littoral Combat Ships, $225 million for one Expeditionary Fast Transport, and additional long-lead materials for the Columbia-class submarine, the DDG-51 destroyer, the LPD amphibious ship, and the LHA amphibious ship. The conference agreement allows for the simultaneous procurement of two aircraft carriers, if the Secretary of Defense makes applicable certifications on cost savings as directed by the National Defense Authorization Act. 
  • Ground Vehicles -- The conference agreement provides $2 billion for M-1 tanks, supports the Army plan to accelerate the pure-fleet Stryker double V hull, and $459 million for 43 Paladin howitzer upgrades.
  • The conference agreement provides $2.4 billion for medical research, an increase of 5 percent real growth compared to the 2018 defense bill.
  • This funding accelerates life-saving breakthroughs for service members, their families, and the American people. 
  • Supporting Service Members and Their Families
  • The conference agreement provides $193.8 billion in the base budget for operation and maintenance funds, in order to sustain military readiness and operations. This is an increase of $5.5 billion over the fiscal year 2018 level, and an increase of 15 percent since fiscal year 2017.
  • The provided funding includes a strong response to PFAS water contamination issues impacting dozens of military bases.  The conference agreement adds $10 million to continue the nation-wide CDC study and assessment on the health impacts of the chemicals; adds $134 million for remediation in communities adjacent to bases; adds $45 million for aqueous foam replacement/disposal, investigations and mitigation on bases.
  • The conference agreement contains funding for high priority “quality of life” programs including: Impact Aid (+$40 million), Impact Aid for Children with Severe Disabilities (+$10 million), enhanced outreach on protection of children of military families (+$4 million), National Guard Youth Challenge (+$30.7 million), STARBASE (+$30 million), and Special Victims Counsels (+$35 million).
  • The conference agreement fully funds the pay raise for military personnel at the requested level of 2.6 percent, and the conference agreement provides sufficient resources for a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian employees (as included in the Senate-reported Financial Services and General Government Act, 2019).
  • Major Program Reforms
  • The conference agreement includes a new provision guaranteeing that the survivors of a service member who perished in the line of duty during a government shutdown will be paid the authorized death gratuity without delay.
    • The conference agreement provides for $3.8 billion in rescissions to prior-year funding for programs that are delayed or no longer needed.  This includes the elimination of $380 million in R&D funding for the JSTARS replacement aircraft, no longer being pursued by the Air Force.