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Congress Sends $416.2 Billion Budget to President

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2004 – A 3.5 percent pay raise, elimination of out-of- pocket housing expenses and continued funding for military transformation are all parts of the Defense Appropriations Act that Congress has sent to President Bush.

The act calls for $416.2 billion in spending in fiscal 2005. Excluding supplementals and the $25 billion Emergency Wartime Appropriation to cover the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is still a $25 billion increase over fiscal 2004.

Congress passed the legislation July 22. It is the first part of a duo of bills that must pass before the Defense Department can spend money. The other leg is the fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization Act. Officials on the Senate and House armed services committees would not hazard a guess on when that piece of legislation will pass.

DoD does not have to wait until passage of the authorization bill to begin using the $25 billion Emergency Wartime Appropriation. This money will cover the estimated cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan from October 1, 2004 through March 31, 2005. The most recent reports indicate operations costs run about $4 billion per month.

The emergency appropriation covers personnel support costs, operations and maintenance costs and transportation costs.

The appropriations act calls for $416.2 billion in spending in fiscal 2005. Excluding supplementals and the $25 billion wartime fund, this is still a $25 billion increase over fiscal 2004.

Military personnel accounts receive almost $104 billion. This funds an across- the-board 3.5 percent pay increase for military personnel. The fiscal 2005 budget raises the basic allowance for housing, finally eliminating out-of- pocket housing expenses service members had incurred. The program started in the Clinton administration, and in a fine example of bipartisan politics was continued in the Bush administration, said DoD officials.

The Defense Health Program is also fully funded at $18.2 billion in fiscal 2005. It includes a $19.2 million to improve amputee care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Operations and maintenance accounts total just over $121 billion in fiscal 2005. It fully funds all readiness indicators tank miles, flying hours, steaming days and ensures forces are trained for the global war on terrorism.

Procurement accounts are at $77.6 billion. This funds buys of Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18E/F fighters, Marine and Air Force V-22 Osprey aircraft, the Air Force's F/A-22 fighter, Air Force C-17 airlifters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Research and development is pegged at almost $70 billion, including money for continued development of the Joint Strike Fighter, unmanned aerial vehicles and the Army's future combat system.

Congress is very hot on the idea of "ground forces recapitalization." This initiative provides $1.5 billion above the president's budget request to recapitalize combat vehicles, helicopters and to procure ammunition. The money funds the fielding of an additional Army Stryker brigade, money to modernize the Bradley fighting vehicle, money to buy eight more Chinook helicopters and 12 Black Hawk choppers for the National Guard.

Congress agreed with the cancellation of the Army Comanche helicopter program and the DoD plan to redistribute funding to other programs.

The appropriation bill provides more than $11 billion for shipbuilding, including funds for a Virginia-class submarine, an LPD-17 assault ship, three DDG-51 destroyers and two supply ships. The budget earmarks almost $1 billion for the next-generation CVN-21 aircraft carrier and $457 million for development of the littoral combat ship program. These ships are a new breed of fast, agile vessels and an important part of the Navy's transformation efforts.

Missile defense programs account for $10 billion of the fiscal 2005 budget. About $4.6 billion goes to ground-based missile defense program and almost $1 billion for the Patriot3 theater missile systems.

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