New Bill Heading to Trump Gives Military Pay Raise, Increases Ships and Aircraft

The National Defense Authorization Act bill for 2018 will include a pay raise for our men and women in uniform as well as new ships and aircraft to build up the American military after years of overstretched neglect under President Barack Obama.

According to Stars and Stripes, the compromise bill hammered out between the Senate and House Armed Services Committees on Wednesday will include $626 billion in base budget spending. Another $66 billion is added for wartime contingency operations and $8 billion for other activities undertaken by the Pentagon.

That comes out to $26 billion more than the $668 billion requested by the Trump administration, itself a 5 percent increase over last year.

Those will be welcome numbers for a military that endured painful budget cuts by the previous administraion while still performing global missions.

Among the highlights of the NDAA is a 2.4 percent pay raise for the troops.

There was also $26.2 billion in funds for 14 battle force ships — “$6.3 billion and five ships more than the Trump administration request,” as the private, non-profit United States Naval Institute noted. There was another $4.3 billion and $1.9 billion to purchase variants of the F-35 and F/A-18 fighter jets, respectively.

“We are tremendously proud of this NDAA, which will strengthen our military, provide our troops a pay raise, bolster missile defense, drive innovation in military technology to secure our global advantage, and build on the defense reforms Congress has passed in recent years,” read a joint statement issued Wednesday by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Democrat Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking minority member; and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican.

“Most importantly, this legislation will help reverse the dangerous readiness crisis that is endangering the lives of our men and women in uniform.

“The FY18 NDAA conference report authorizes funds for base budget requirements of $626 billion,” the statement continued.

“Together with $66 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) warfighting account and $8 billion for other defense activities, the legislation supports a national defense topline of nearly $700 billion—a $26 billion increase above the president’s combined initial and amended budget requests.

“We are also proud of the bipartisan process that led to this conference report, which took hard work and thoughtful collaboration from members on both sides of the aisle.”

The bill needs final approval in the House and Senate, but given Wednesday’s agreement, that’s a virtual certainty.

“As this legislation moves toward final passage and to the president’s desk,” the statement continued, “we are confident it will continue the bipartisan tradition of supporting the brave men and women of our armed forces and enable them to rise to the challenges of our increasingly dangerous world.”

The bill passed on the idea of a Space Corps, a new arm of the Air Force that would deal with militarizing space.

While the House supported its creation, the Senate and Defense Secretary James Mattis were opposed.

Given the president’s history of hawkishness on defense, an NDAA giving him even more in terms of rebuilding the military seems like a slam dunk for a quick signature.

However, in addition to a military hawk, President Trump has proved himself a budget hawk as well. Will the NDAA run into opposition from the White House over its cost?

All we can say is: Stay tuned.

H/T Flight Global

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Senate Dems introduce bill to ban assault weapons, bump stocks!!

Senate Democrats are moving to ban assault weapons and a device that allows semi-automatic weapons to simulate automatic fire in the wake of mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas.

Roughly two dozen Democrats, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), introduced legislation on Wednesday that would ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and bump stocks, devices that can be used to make semi-automatic rifles fire faster.

We’re introducing an updated Assault Weapons Ban for one reason: so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote,” Feinstein said in a statement.

Congress previously enacted an assault weapons ban in 1994, but that legislation expired in 2004.

The Democratic legislation would ban the sale, production and transfer of military-style assault weapons, with some exceptions, though owners would be able to keep existing weapons. It would also ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The bill would require a background check on any future trade or sale of an assault weapon covered by the legislation, require any guns grandfathered under the bill to be securely stored and prohibit transferring high-capacity magazines.

Lawmakers have homed in on bump stocks after a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas last month, where nearly 60 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured.

Authorities have said a dozen of the rifles used by the suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, had been modified with bump stocks.