By Baker Owens –
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (FY18 NDAA). The final bill included $695.9 billion in spending for base budget national defense funding and Overseas Contingency Operations. It passed the House by a vote of 344 to 81.
All ten of Georgia’s Republican representatives voted for the bill, as well as Democrats Sanford Bishop (D- 2) and David Scott (D- 13). The only Georgia representatives to vote against the bill were John Lewis (D- 4) and Hank Johnson (D- 5).
Rep. Austin Scott (R- 8), Georgia’s lone representative on the House Armed Services and whose district includes Robins and Moody Air Force Bases, was pleased with the outcome and optimistic about its impact in Georgia. “With nine major military installations, Georgia plays a key role in maintaining military readiness. That’s why effective representation of Robins and Moody Air Force Bases, in addition to all of Georgia’s military installations, is a top priority of mine,” said Scott.
Scott also praised certain aspects of the Act. “This bill helps to correct the funding shortfalls that have led to a lack of readiness and to a heightened level of risk to our troops and our security. It reverses cuts to our Armed Forces, provides a 2.4% pay raise for our troops, and makes major reforms in several critical areas, including streamlining business practices of the Department of the Defense and the acquisition system of the military services. The legislation also prohibits a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) for FY18 2018.”
The Trump administration issued a statement citing some problems with the bill, notably that last item Scott listed, BRAC. Stopping short of a veto threat, the “Statement of Administration Policy” issued by the White House last week took issue with the BRAC related portion of the bill. “The Administration strongly objects to section 2702 and strongly urges Congress to provide BRAC authorization as requested so that DOD can ensure it is not wasting scarce resources on unneeded infrastructure. The Department estimates that a new BRAC round in 2021 would save it an additional $2 billion annually—resources it could apply to higher priorities such as readiness and modernization,” said the White House in its statement.
In addition to the pay raise, the bill also authorizes an increase in the size of the military, including growing the Army by 17,000 active-duty, Reserve and Guard soldiers. It provides $103 million for upgrades to the A-10C Warthogs, many of which are stationed at Moody AFB. The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems (JSTARS) fleet, stationed at Robins AFB, will see an additional $417 million. Fort Gordon, home to a growing cyber operations unit, will see part of $8 billion dedicated to that task. Marietta’s Lockheed Martin employees will be busy with an authorization for 20 additional C-130J Super Hercules aircraft – a transport craft that can hold more than 40,000 pounds of cargo and supplies.
The Senate version of the bill passed out of committee on June 28 but has yet to be taken up on the floor.