Following eight public hearings and one closed hearing, the Senate Appropriations committee approved the bipartisan Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017, S.3000, after the Subcommittee on Defense completed its markup earlier in the week.
The bill would provide $574.6 billion in total funding, which is more than last year’s enacted funding of $572.9 billion but falls short of the president’s request of $576.5 billion. Of the base budget appropriations, $515.9 billion is allocated for the base defense budget with the remaining $58.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations of the Department of Defense (DOD). DOD’s Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation line came in at $70.8 billion, with decreases in the Navy’s science and technology funds. The committee provides $563 million for Navy’s Basic Research, $941.2 million for Navy’s Applied Research, and $787 million for Navy’s Advanced Technology Development (a 19 percent decrease, 7 percent decrease, and 7 percent increase, respectively). Specifically, the University Research Initiatives would see a 30 percent decrease ($121.7 million) and In-House Lab Independent Research would be decreased by 3 percent ($18.5 million).
Increasing military readiness in the Arctic region is a priority for the Senate’s defense plan. According to Defense Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Durbin (IL), “The effects of climate change mean [the Arctic] is increasingly important for national security… Climate change is real. The national security implications and the ability of our armed forces are real. And so this bill makes a real commitment.” This bill provides $1 billion to procure a new polar icebreaker to support the two working U.S. icebreakers, compared with Russia’s 40. However, Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) warned further investment in icebreaker capabilities will be critical; she proposed that six heavy icebreakers and six medium icebreakers are needed in the Arctic.