SUMMARY: FY2019 Defense Appropriations Bill Approved by Subcommittee

Washington, D.C. – The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019, provides $607.1 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:

“This defense bill makes investment in innovation a top priority for our Armed Forces and our Nation.  Working with Chairman Shelby, we have written a bill that provides for the largest R&D budget in the history of the Department of Defense, even when adjusted for inflation. Part of this increase is a record level of funding for medical research, which has benefits far beyond our service members and their families.  While I remain concerned that the vast increases in defense spending over the last two years will lead to waste and mismanagement, we have done our part to eliminate tens of billions of dollars of inefficient or unneeded spending, and redirect those savings to higher priorities. I look forward to moving this good bill, and each of the other 11 appropriations bills, to the finish line as soon as possible.”

Key Points & Highlights

The bill complies with the spending limits established by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the moratorium on congressionally directed spending items. 

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

  • Innovation, Technological Superiority, and Medical Research
  • The bill provides $95.1 billion for research and development programs.  This is an increase of $4 billion compared to the 2019 budget request, $6.8 billion compared to 2018 levels, and 32 percent compared to 2017.
  • Advanced military technologies --  The bill increases investments in hypersonics research (+$928 million), next-generation microelectronics (+$457 million), directed energy (+$317 million), and artificial intelligence/machine learning (+$297 million)
  • The bill provides $135.2 billion for procurement to modernize our military capabilities.  This is an increase of $4.6 billion compared to the 2019 budget request, $1.3 billion compared to 2018 levels, and 25 percent compared to 2017.
  • Aircraft – The bill provides for 89 F-35 Lightning II aircraft, 36 Apache and 64 Black Hawk helicopters for the Army, five E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes for the Navy, and ten V-22 Ospreys for the Marine Corps.  The bill also fully funds the requested numbers of F/A-18 aircraft, C-130 transport aircraft, and KC-46 tankers.
  • Shipbuilding -- The bill provides $24 billion for shipbuilding, which includes two Littoral Combat Ships and one Expeditionary Fast Transport.
  • Ground Vehicles -- The bill provides $2 billion for M-1 tanks and supports the Army plan to accelerate the pure-fleet Stryker double V hull.
  • The bill provides $1.8 billion for medical research, an increase of 5 percent compared to the 2018 Senate defense bill.
  • This funding accelerates life-saving breakthroughs for service members, their families, and the American people. 
  • Supporting Service Members and Their Families
  • The bill provides $194.1 billion in operation and maintenance funds, in order to sustain military readiness and operations. This is an increase of $5.7 billion over the 2018 level, and an increase of 17 percent since 2017.
  • The provided funding includes a strong response to PFAS water contamination issues impacting dozens of military bases.  The bill includes $10 million to continue the nation-wide CDC study and assessment on the health impacts of the chemicals; adds $105 million for remediation in communities adjacent to bases; adds $64 million for aqueous foam replacement/disposal, investigations and mitigation on bases, which includes $19 million for the National Guard.
  • Compared to the 2019 budget request, the bill provides 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 ($13 million), of Special Victims Counsels ($25 million)
  • The bill fully funds the pay raise for military personnel at the requested level of 2.6 percent, and the bill anticipates enactment of 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 bill 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 bill 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 $383 million in R&D funding for the JSTARS replacement aircraft, no longer being pursued by the Air Force.