- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2018

House Appropriations committee members on Wednesday passed the Pentagon’s annual funding bill — a $675 billion package of requests for fiscal 2019 — which increases purchases of F-35 joint strike fighters.

The panel voted 48-4 for the appropriations bill, which provides $606.5 billion in base discretionary funds and $68.1 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

“This bill does what General Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff has asked. It ensures the joint force has the depth, flexibility, readiness and responsiveness that ensures our men and women will never face a fair fight,” defense subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger, Texas Republican, said in a statement.

Among the spending specifics, it includes $9.4 billion for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to purchase 93 of Lockheed Martin’s high-tech F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The Trump Administration and Pentagon had requested 77 planes.

Concerns over the long-term costs of maintaining the F-35s had kept the number of proposed purchases in the 70s in the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which runs concurrently to the appropriations request and which House members have already passed.

On Wednesday, Ms. Granger explained the increase was “to maintain air superiority” and variety.

During Wednesday’s hearing, committee members also rejected, along party lines, an amendment passed last year that would have ended the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

The committee voted 22-30 against the amendment to sunset the 2001 AUMF —which Washington still uses to legally justify military operations against terrorist groups.

“In the last 17 years,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, who introduced the amendment, “it has become increasingly clear that the AUMF has essentially provided the president, any president, the authority to wage war against any nation anywhere at time.”

For years lawmakers have debated replacing the 2001 AUMF with one more tailored to today’s world.

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