Congress presented its $1.4 trillion bipartisan budget to the public on Monday and the House passed it today. The deal, if it made into law, would give $738 billion to defense and fund priorities for the Defense Department’s National Defense Strategy.
The new defense appropriations bill doesn’t follow either the House or Senate’s versions of the spending bill and diverts from the president’s budget as well.
Federal News Network made a list of the things you need to know about what’s in the defense agreement.
It’s the largest research and development budget in decades
When the Defense Department rolled out its original $750 billion budget in March it asked for $104 billion for its research, development, test and evaluation fund. The request was $8 billion more than allocated in 2019 and $12 billion more than 2018.
“The budget is the largest research, development, test and evaluation request in 70 years,” David Norquist, deputy defense secretary, said in March.
Despite giving the military an overall lower budget, Congress delivered on R&D, giving the department $105.3 billion.
Congress did move around how some of the money would be spent, however. It added more than $280 million for basic and university research across DoD and the services, $200 million for DoD’s new 5G program, $260 million for cybersecurity enhancements and another $101 million for manufacturing.
Seventy years ago the world had similar themes to what the 2020 request and spending bill are trying to tackle. In 1950, the world was cleaving further into competition between the USSR and the United States. In 2019, DoD seems to think the world is in a similar separation between China, Russia and the United States. Both budgets focused on posturing between world superpowers and both budgets put emphasis on technological superiority to keep the United States ahead of other militarily advanced nations.
For that reason, DoD is putting an emphasis on developing emerging technologies after years of putting it on the backburner in terms of investment.
Childcare is getting a boost
Childcare continues to be an issue for the military. The lack of available and affordable care leaves military families in a tough spot.
“In some places it is a straight capacity issue,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright told Congress in February. “We just don’t have enough slots available, but in many other places we don’t have the qualified staff.”
The spending deal gives childcare a $110 million boost across the services, bumping up total childcare spending in 2020 to $1.5 billion.
JEDI and MilCloud 2.0
Two of the military’s largest cloud contracts were called out in the spending bill.
The JEDI contract had its fair share of drama this year, and it’s not over yet. However, DoD is able to move along executing the contract with Microsoft. The bill acknowledges that the DoD chief information officer provided Congress with the reports it wanted when it previously prohibited funds for JEDI. The bill states that DoD must continue to submit quarterly reports on the implementation of its cloud strategy.
DoD is already using a commercially-owned cloud called MilCloud 2.0 for some of its needs. The DoD CIO told the Fourth Estate — defense agencies that don’t fall under the purview of the military services — to migrate from MilCloud 1.0 to 2.0 in May of 2018. Now Congress wants the agencies to get a move on. The bill tells the DoD agencies to complete their migration by the end of Fiscal 2020.
Space Force gets a cut
The Defense Department requested $72.5 million for the operation and maintenance of the Space Force in 2020.
It’s going to have to deal with a little more than half of that. Appropriators only doled out $40 million for the new service in 2020.
Some lawmakers are still skeptical of the military branch and how much it will end up costing the taxpayers.
The bill also requires the Air Force Secretary to provide a spend plan for every month of 2020.
“The spend plan shall include, but not be limited to, funding for civilian personnel (including the number of full-time equivalents), supplies and materials, and contract support,” the managers of the bill state.
Congress wants the plan within 30 days of the bill’s passage.