Defense funding proposal clears committee

The House Armed Services Committee passed the fiscal 2005 Defense Authorization Bill last night, recommending $422.2 billion for the Defense Department and the national security programs of the Energy Department.

In an unanimous 60-0 vote on HR 4200, congressional members also included $25 billion in emergency supplemental funding for Iraq in the markup.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the committee decided to make 2005 the 'Year of the Troops' and to prioritize spending recommendations for programs that directly enhance combat and force protection capabilities.

During the markup, committee members chided Defense acquisition processes and said they would continue to scrutinize DOD's information technology programs to ensure program managers have justified their spending plans.

'The committee is deeply concerned about the pace at which new technology moves from the laboratory to the battlefield and the ability to respond to emerging, critical operational needs,' according to language in the markup.

Some of the markup recommendations include a 3.5 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel, a $192 million increase in unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance capabilities, and an additional $30 million in funding for improvised explosive device jammers.

Other highlights of the proposal include:

  • $11.1 billion for the DOD science and technology program, which includes basic research, applied research and advanced technology development. This marks an increase of $517.2 million over the president's budget request.

  • $4.6 billion for Navy and Air Force development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. JSF is a high-tech combat aircraft being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. This year, the program received a total of $4.3 billion.

  • $277 million for unmanned aerial vehicle procurements

  • $122 million for the Combating Terrorism Technology Support Program, a program that develops, demonstrates and fields advanced technologies to aid the fight against terrorism

  • $8.9 million for the Digital Soldier Project. Digital Soldier is a handheld device for emergency situational reporting via networked inputs.

The proposal is expected to move to the full House for consideration next week.


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