FY16 Defense Full Committee Markup Bill Summary

Mara Stark-Alcalá w/Appropriations:             (202) 224-2667                                  
Durbin Press Office:                                       (202) 228-5244
Full Committee Mark:  June 11, 2015
Washington, D.C. The Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Act, 2016 provides $575.9 billion in base and Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funding, compared to $554.2 billion enacted in fiscal year 2015 and $577.9 billion in the President’s budget request.  The base budget appropriation is $489.1 billion with $86.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations of the Department of Defense, compared to $64 billion for DoD OCO enacted in fiscal year 2015. 
The Subcommittee’s allocation conforms to the post-sequester caps under the Budget Control Act.  Not one Senate Democrat voted for these spartan spending levels because they do not provide adequate resources to protect America, build infrastructure, create opportunity, and spur economic growth.  We need a new budget deal, in the spirit of Murray-Ryan, that stops hollowing out investments in America’s future.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Vice Chairman of the Department of Defense Subcommittee, said:
“This defense bill does a lot of good things.  It supports our troops and their families, devotes more resources to science and medical research to maintain our technological edge, and increases the readiness of our forces.  However, it is premised on increasing Overseas Contingency Operations spending by $35.9 billion to avoid the Budget Control Act caps, and this is a problem.  The President, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey and even at one time Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain have spoken out against the OCO gimmick.  Let’s face this problem head on – we need to negotiate a budget deal that addresses all the needs of our country and sets us on a sustainable budget path.”
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement:
“I commend Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Durbin, and their excellent staff, for their work in bringing the Committee a bipartisan bill.  Regrettably, because of the post-sequester funding limits contained in the budget resolution, the bill relies on $36 billion of so-called Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) spending – the sole purpose of which is to finesse the Budget Control Act spending caps.  It is essential that we negotiate a budget compromise.  We should start those talks now, not when the country is facing another government shutdown or debt limit crisis later this year.  We all know where this appropriations process is headed.  The President will veto any bill that embraces sequester.  If we act now, we can get the process on track, so we can write responsible funding bills that do not rely on gimmicks to protect America and provide opportunity for all Americans.”
In compliance with the earmark moratorium, the bill contains no congressionally directed spending items.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016 emphasizes the following priorities:
  1. Supporting our Troops, Veterans, and their Families
  1. Investing in Innovation to Maintain our Technological Edge
  1. Investing in Medical Research to Improve Care Outcomes
  1. Restoring Readiness
Supporting our Troops, Veterans, and their Families
The men and women and their families that serve our country on active duty, in the reserves and as civilians are the backbone of our Armed Forces.  The bill contains many provisions to support them:
  • Funds the requested 1.3 percent pay raise for military and civilian employees, 0.3 percent higher than in 2015.
  • Rejects pharmacy co-pay increases and consolidation of TRICARE.
  • Provides an additional $25 million to the President’s request for continuation and expansion of the Special Victims’ Counsel Program to provide victims of sexual assault with legal assistance and support.  
  • Provides an additional $20 million to the President’s request for the Beyond Yellow Ribbon program, which supports National Guard members, Reservists and their families throughout their deployments.
  • Continues efforts to improve medical record transfer between DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Investing in Innovation to Maintain our Technological Edge
Continuing to invest in basic and advanced research and development is essential to maintaining our technological edge on the battlefield and enhancing our national security.  At the same time, DoD research has had wide impacts on society as a whole, which improves our economic security, including:
  • DARPA’s developed application, Memex, which establishes links connecting criminal/illicit activity hidden deep in the web and out of sight of normal search engine algorithms.  Memex is now being used as a law enforcement tool to track various illegal trafficking networks.  
  • Army’s Concept for Advanced Military Explosion-mitigating Land Demonstrator, or CAMEL, is a prototype troop carrier developed to demonstrate how future vehicles can be designed to withstand IEDs and protect military men and women on the battlefield.
  • The Navy’s investment in electromagnetic rail gun which will launch projectiles cheaper and faster than can be countered by current and future adversaries.  
  • Air Force’s ADVENT ENGINE program which will provide jet engines that will be high performance and fuel efficient.   Current technology only allows for either efficiency or performance, but not both.  
The bill supports these efforts by:
  • Adding $228.5 million to the President’s request for non-medical basic research, for total funding of $2.32 billion.
  • Providing $400 million for a new “technology offset” fund to investment in cutting edge technologies.
  • Providing $400 million for the Rapid Innovation Fund, which takes more advanced research and development concepts from design closer to production.
  • Providing $200 million for the assessment of equipment for cyber threats. 
Investing in Medical Research to Improve Care Outcomes
Just as investing in basic and advanced science has paid great dividends, similar investments in medical research and battlefield medicine are saving more lives while improving care options and quality of life after injuries.  This knowledge helps better inform treatment for everyone.  In addition, DoD disease research is advancing our knowledge of the effects on our troops and their families and leading to better disease management and other breakthroughs.  The bill supports these efforts:
  • Adds $835.5 million for DoD medical research, a seven percent increase to last year’s senate mark, for total funding of $1.53 billion. 
  • Includes $278.8 million for the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program.
  • Includes $120 million for Breast Cancer Research.
  • Includes $64 million for Prostate Cancer Research.
  • Includes $60 million for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Research.
  • Includes $10 million for Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research.
Restoring Readiness
The high operational tempos of the last decade and the effects of budget sequestration have made maintaining the readiness of our military an increasing challenge.  The bill fully supports the President’s request while taking additional steps to keep us on the path toward full spectrum readiness:
  • Adds $182 million to the President’s request to further enhance Army readiness funding of $21.1 billion, totaling almost $21.3 billion.
  • Supports additional depot maintenance.
  • Supports cyber operations and unmanned aircraft operations training.
Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) Gimmick
The Republican defense bill increases Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) spending by $35.9 billion to circumvent the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps – OCO spending does not count against the caps – while not providing additional funding for non-defense programs. This approach not only violates the BCA and neglects other national needs, but is a poor way to budget for the defense of the nation.  The OCO gimmick is opposed by President Obama, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan.  A much better approach is to negotiate a new budget deal to increase spending for both defense and domestic priorities. 

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