- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Republican leaders told balky conservatives Tuesday to drop their complaints and approve a budget-busting spending bill in order to get the Pentagon more money and end what they have deemed a “readiness crisis” in the military.

“We made a promise to the country we would rebuild our military,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, touting what he said was the biggest defense increase in 15 years, and the biggest pay raise for troops in eight years.

Negotiators are still working on final touches on the bill, which is already nearly six months overdue and was supposed to have been released Monday.

Mr. Ryan said he hoped the bill will now be released Tuesday, which would set up a vote for Thursday in the House.

The bill must also clear the Senate, though, and the timing is becoming tricky. If no funding is secured by March 23, the government would slip into its third shutdown of the year. And Congress was planning to take a two-week spring break beginning this weekend.

Under an agreement reached in January to end the first shutdown, the bill will encompass $1.3 trillion in spending — a surge of more than $140 billion this year alone.

Republican defense hawks were desperate to boost the Pentagon, while Democrats said if the military got more cash, so should domestic needs.

Mr. Ryan on Tuesday said the GOP has tried to focus the domestic increases on veterans health care and responding to the opioid crisis.

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