- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2017

The House Appropriations Committee dropped a defense spending bill Thursday that aims to keep the military running through September, the end of the current fiscal year.

The spending measure is slated to be voted on next week and represents the biggest chunk of the federal funding — usually spread across 12 bills — that lawmakers are expected to take up over the coming weeks as they look to avert a partial government shutdown.

The measure sets aside $577.9 billion for the military, bringing total defense funding for fiscal 2017 to $583.7 billion — almost a $11 billion increase over 2016. It includes $516.1 in base defense funding and $61.8 million in war funding.

“The singular most important duty of Congress is to provide for our nation’s defense, and the rebuilding of our nation’s military starts with this bill,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “This legislation provides responsible funding to ensure that our troops have the resources they need to remain the very best in the world, and to fulfill the mission of protecting our country and our way of life.”

Congress passed a stopgap spending bill in December to keep federal agencies running until April 28, allowing them to avoid a partial government shutdown and buying time for the Trump administration to get its people in place before lawmakers returned to the spending debate.

Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said she is “disappointing that it took until March — nearly halfway into the fiscal year — to bring forward a Defense Appropriations bill that could have and should have been finished more than five months ago.”

“Nevertheless, I thank Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate for their hard work and cooperation on this product, which keeps faith with caps on discretionary spending,” the New York Democrat said.

Thad Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, said he is optimistic that Congress will vote in favor of the measure.

“We’ve tried to make the best decisions possible, within funding limitations, to support national security priorities like modernization of aging equipment and a pay increase for all military personnel,” Mr. Cochran said. “Our national defense should remain our highest priority, and I encourage the Congress to move to adopt this legislation.”

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