Democrats unveil opening bid for defense spending

The House Appropriations Committee unveiled its opening bid for defense spending on Tuesday, granting the Pentagon $761.68 billion for fiscal 2023.

The top line of its proposed fiscal 2023 defense funding bill would represent a $32 billion increase over fiscal 2022 funding levels.

The agency would receive another $15.1 billion for military construction programs under a separate bill that would appropriate a total of $314.1 billion for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The two bills combined would give the Pentagon $776.8 billion, which is $3 billion more than President Biden requested for the agency in March. The president requested $813.3 billion in total national defense spending, of which $773 billion would go to the Pentagon.

The committee is expected to consider the two bills next Wednesday.

The proposed defense bill sets aside $173.1 billion for military personnel, which includes support for a 4.6 percent military pay raise. It also includes $269.3 billion in operations and maintenance $143.9 billion for procurement, and $131.7 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation.

The measure also $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to provide support and assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It also provides $1.3 billion for international security cooperation programs, of which $300 million would go to allies and partners facing Russian aggression.

The measure also includes a provision that would prohibit the Pentagon from denying service members or civilian employees leave for obtaining abortions.

Separately, the military construction bill would allocate roughly $274 million for child development centers, $2.1 billion for family housing, $1 billion for constructing or renovating Guard and Reserve facilities, and $510 million for housing unaccompanied personnel at various locations.

That bill also includes $135 billion in discretionary spending for the VA, which was $48 million less than Biden requested for the agency. It also includes $128.1 billion in advance fiscal 2024 funding for veterans’ medical care.

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