24 June 2004
Congressional Report, June 24: $447 Billion Defense Bill Passes
Senate adds reporting requirement on military
The U.S. Senate passed a $447.2 billion Defense Department spending
bill June 24 after a month of debate and countless amendments.
The defense budget approved by the Senate on a 97-0 vote authorizes
defense programs, but does not appropriate money for them. Legislation
that will allocate money for the Defense Department in fiscal year
2005, which begins October 1, must still be considered. The House
of Representatives approved its version of the defense authorization
bill last month.
Added to the Senate bill was an amendment proposed by Senator
Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, which would require the Pentagon
to report to Congress on the status of detainees being held in
Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere because they have been denied prisoner-of-war
status as part of the war on terrorism. The Leahy amendment passed
The defense bill includes $25 billion sought by President Bush
for continuing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the
administration is expected to submit a request for another $25
billion in supplemental funding for ongoing operations in those
two countries sometime early in 2005.
The measure also includes nearly $70 billion for the development
of new aircraft, ships and weapons systems. In addition, it includes
$10.2 billion for the missile defense program, as well as additional
research, but not development on concepts for two new nuclear weapons
-- a low-yield small bomb and a high-yield bunker-buster bomb designed
to destroy deep underground facilities.
Following the lead of the House, the Senate also added an amendment
that would increase the number of Army troops by 20,000. Congress
must approve any plan to add troops permanently beyond current
limits. The House has approved adding 30,000 Army troops and 9,000
Marines over a three-year period.
Both the Senate and House included "Buy American" rules for the
procurement of military materials, although the Senate requirement
is less stringent.
The Senate- and House-passed measures must be reconciled before
going to the president for signature.
This week the House approved a $417 billion defense appropriations
bill that covers only the Defense Department programs, while the
Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar $416 billion
defense spending measure. Both chambers of Congress are planning
to begin debate on the defense appropriation bills before the July