House Passes Defense Spending Bill

Washington Report

(June 16, 2015) The House passed a defense spending bill June 11 that has funds for several unique National Guard efforts, including border-security operations, the State Partnership Program (SPP), the Youth ChalleNGe Program and Counterdrug Program.

The Senate is expected to take up its version of the bill this week, but it faces tougher scrutiny in the upper chamber where Democrats want to address the spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The House version includes $578.6 billion, which is $800 million more than the Pentagon's request and uses the overseas contingency operations account to sidestep the spending caps known as sequestration.

Democrats and President Barack Obama want to eliminate the spending caps, but prefer to do so on both defense spending and nondefense spending.

Obama, whose defense-budget request also exceeded the caps, has threatened to veto defense legislation if spending limits are not lifted for both types of spending.

The bill came out of the House Appropriations Committee with $1 billion for the Guard (evenly divided between the Army and Air Guard) in the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account. The committee also appropriated $147.9 million for the Guard Counterdrug Program, an increase of more than $42 million over 2015, and $7 million for SPP.

Meanwhile, among the many amendments approved before the House vote were two directly affecting the Guard. One provides $2 million additional funding for Guard border operations.

Another would provide an additional $5 million for the Youth ChalleNGe program.