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House passes Defense Appropriations Act for FY2019

American Capital Building in Washington DC at Dusk.

The U.S. House on Thursday passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2019, H.R. 5167.

The bill passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 359 to 49. Earlier this year, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes defense programs. The Defense Appropriations Act provides the actual funding to support the policy and authorizations included in the NDAA.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) voted in favor of the Department of Defense Appropriations bill.

“Peace through strength should always be the position of the United States,” Byrne said. “There is no greater deterrent to war than a strong, fully equipped U.S. military. With this defense funding bill, we continue to rebuild our military and ensure our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to defend our nation.”

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) also voted “Yes” on H.R. 6157, the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Congressman Brooks serves on the House Armed Services Committee and sits on the Strategic Forces and Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittees.

“America’s military must have the personnel and equipment necessary to protect our national security,” Rep. Brooks said. “As I have with every other defense appropriations bill since I’ve been in Congress, I voted ‘Yes’ on the FY19 Defense Appropriations Act to support our military. Slowly but surely, Republicans have diligently worked to rebuild America’s military after the damage done by sequestration cuts. As an aside, I was one of only two Alabama Republican Congressmen who foresaw the damage sequestration would do to our national security and voted against sequestration in 2011.”

“I have spoken on this floor many times about the readiness crisis facing our military,” Rep. Byrne said. “We’re finally getting our planes back in the air and troops that are fully prepared to deploy. This readiness crisis hurts our overall national security, but it also puts our service men and women at greater risk. Last year, we lost four times as many service members in training accidents as we lost in combat. We owe it to these men and women to do everything in our power to avoid more of these accidents. That duty requires consistent and robust funding for all aspects of our defense.”

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“I’m also very pleased to see so many Alabama priorities adequately funded,” Rep. Byrne said. “Whether it is Army Aviation at Fort Rucker or missile defense at Redstone Arsenal, this funding bill will ensure that Alabama remains a critical part of our nation’s national defense strategy.”

“The FY19 Defense Appropriations Act further rebuilds our armed forces, restores readiness, and supports our warfighters by providing $674.6 billion in total defense funding, including $68 billion for the War on Terrorism,” Brooks said. “The bill also includes a 2.6% raise for our troops and provides $245.9 billion for training, maintenance, and base operations— things central to maintaining America’s military might.”

“I’m pleased to say that this funding bill builds on the progress made over the last two years, and I am proud to support the Defense Appropriations bill and this rule,” Byrne continued. “This bill sets aside $674.6 billion for the Department of Defense, which is consistent with the National Defense Authorization Act that passed out of this body earlier this year. Importantly, the bill will help us recruit and retain the greatest fighting force on the face of the earth. That includes full funding for a 2.6 percent pay raise for the military and an increase in overall end strength.

Brooks continued, “The FY19 Defense Appropriations bill includes significant wins for the Tennessee Valley defense community. To highlight a few, the bill includes robust funding for the Improved Turbine Engine, Hypersonics development, Standard Missile 3, Terminal High Altitude Air Defense, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, $92 billion is provided for research and development of new defense systems and technology, and $146 billion is provided for procurement of the resources, weapons, and platforms for our troops.”

Congressman Byrne said that the bill includes important funding priorities for Alabama’s defense facilities and programs, including: Funding for three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), which are built in part by Austal USA in Mobile; Funding for additional UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, Lakota helicopters, and Apache helicopters, which are critical to the Army aviation mission at Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass; Increased funding to address cyber threats to our missile defense systems, which benefits the mission at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville; $22.4 million for the Stryker Upgrade program, which will support the work at the Anniston Army Depot; Strong funding for THAAD, Hellfire, and LRASM missile programs, which are built by Lockheed Martin in Troy; and $9.4 billion for 93 F-35 aircraft, the future aircraft of Montgomery’s 187th Fighter Wing.

Brooks concluded, “Providing the necessary resources for a strong national defense is Job #1 for Congress. The FY19 defense appropriations bill passed today not only enhances America’s national security, it tells our allies and enemies that America has the fortitude and ability to protect our interests around the globe.”

The bill now moves to the Senate where Senator Richard Shelby is already working on the defense appropriations bill in the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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