July 24, 2013
The House voted today to give the U.S. Army and Navy more procurement money than they sought for fiscal 2014 — funds designated for Blackhawk helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. and Patriot missile interceptors from Lockheed Martin Corp.
The legislation, H.R. 2397, also would bar any U.S. military involvement in Syria unless the activities are approved by Congress, and prohibit funding military operations in Egypt.
The 315-109 vote to advance the almost $600 billion spending bill came after a debate on limiting funding for the National Security Agency in light of revelations about U.S. surveillance activities by former security contractor Edward Snowden.
The House rejected 205-217 an amendment to prohibit the NSA from collecting phone records unless a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order stipulates that the records pertain to someone under investigation.
“The amendment defeated on the House Floor would have eliminated a crucial counterterrorism tool by dismantling a critical NSA program put in place in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, said in a joint statement. “The charge that the program tramples on the privacy of citizens is simply wrong.”
The House deleted from the bill $553.8 million that would have been used to purchase 30 Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-run arms trader, and then turn the choppers over to Afghanistan.
The prohibition on using Pentagon funds for operations in Egypt would not affect a separate avenue of U.S. financial support. Egypt receives about $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid by way of the annual State Department and Foreign Operations appropriations bill.
The bill would give the Pentagon about $512.5 billion in funding not directly related to war — $5.1 billion less than the amount enacted for fiscal 2013, which doesn’t include the spending cuts caused by sequestration, and $3.4 billion less than President Barack Obama requested.
The Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program — F-35 jets made by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin — would receive the White House-requested amount of $5.14 billion for 29 aircraft, with six for the Marine Corps, four for the Navy and 19 for the Air Force.
The measure would appropriate $129.6 billion for pay and benefits for active duty, reserve and National Guard members, an increase of $2.1 billion from the fiscal 2013 enacted level, though $750 million less than the White House request.
A pay increase of 1.8 percent, rather than the 1 percent raise requested by the Pentagon, would go to all military personnel starting Jan. 1, 2014. Service members received a 1.7 percent pay raise for this year.
Civilian personnel wouldn’t receive an increase under the bill; their pay has been frozen for three years. The Obama administration has requested a 1 percent increase for civilian personnel.