House committee passes DOD funding measure

The House Armed Services Committee yesterday approved a fiscal 2004 authorizations bill that recommends $400.5 billion in funding for the Defense Department and the national security programs of the Energy Department.

In passing HR 1588, (Click here for PDF) the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 with a 58-2 vote, the committee supported most of of the recommendations in President Bush's budget proposal. However, the committee called for increased funding over the president's proposal on some key Defense programs that rely heavily on IT.

'This bill bolsters our national security by striking a balance between modernizing our existing forces and investing in so-called transformational capabilities,' said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the committee. 'The fact is, we are always evolving and transforming; the key is balancing short-term risk with long-term strategy.'

'Some might argue that we cannot afford to both modernize our existing force structure while developing the transformational capabilities needed for the future,' Hunter added. 'I believe that as a country at war with global terrorism, the United States can ill afford not to.'

The committee recommended $10.9 billion for Defense science and technology programs, a $662 million increase over Bush's proposal, so the military can keep a technological edge over enemy forces, Hunter said.

'Defense science and technology programs are critical to maintaining U.S. military technology superiority in the face of evolving threats,' he said. 'The administration's budget request for science and technology of 2.7 percent of the total DOD budget does not meet the goal of three percent established by the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review.'

The committee also increased by $27 million the E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), recommending it be funded at $63 million for 2004. The committee voted to give the Army $1.7 billion for its Future Combat System, but noted that the funds should not be released until 30 days after the Army provides 'sufficient detail to Congress justifying the budget request.'

Among some of the other recommendations:

  • $104.5 million for LAN upgrades to several Army installations, $8 million more than the administration requested

  • $1 billion for continued development of the Navy's DD(X) high-tech destroyer-class warship

  • $838.1 million for advanced extremely high-frequency military satellite communications

  • $2.2 billion to the Navy and $2.2 billion to the Air Force for Joint Strike Fighter development

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