FY 2016 Senate Appropriations Bill: Department of Defense S&T Programs

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Publication date: 
19 June 2015
Number: 
86

Yesterday, in a 50-45 floor vote, the Senate failed to muster the necessary votes to proceed to consideration of the $567 billion FY 2016 Defense Appropriations bill.  The vote fell along party lines, with Republican senators supporting the bill as it was reported out of committee and Democratic senators opposing.  The Senate Democratic leadership indicated they want to negotiate an increase in the overall federal discretionary spending budget for FY 2016 before supporting the defense spending bill.  The White House also threatened a veto of the Defense Appropriations bill, saying it has a number of serious concerns about the legislation.  Given the underlying disagreement between the parties on the size of the FY 2016 federal discretionary budget, the standstill on the Defense Appropriations bill in the Senate could take months to resolve. 

Before it came to the Senate floor yesterday, the defense spending measure was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 11 by a bipartisan vote of 27-3.  This breadth of support in committee suggests that the substance of the bill was not the Democrats’ primary objection; rather, it is the underlying budget approach they contest.  

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) praised the passage of the bill in committee, saying “We have worked together…to write a responsible bill that provides the resources that the President and our military leaders say they need to defend our country and its national security interests.”  With respect to the science and technology programs at the Department of Defense (DoD), the committee press release states: “Important resources are dedicated to research and development in an effort to ensure that the United States maintains a technological edge on its adversaries…The bill adds $228.5 million to basic (non-medical) research for the Army, Navy, Air Force and DoD, a 1.7 percent increase over FY 2015 levels.

Accompanying the bill, as reported by the committee, is a 262-page report that recommends funding levels and priorities for the DoD in FY 2016.  The 45-page chapter on Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, starting on page 148, provides detailed introductory information with later sections on Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense-Wide programs.  Figures calculated from this report’s section, the House Appropriations Committee report, and the Administration’s FY 2016 request, are compared to the current level of funding in FY 2015 below.

Total 6.1 Basic Research:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $2,277.8 million
The FY 2016 request is $2,089.0 million, a decrease of $188.8 million or 8.3 percent
The House bill recommends $2,100.5 million, a decrease of $177.3 million or 7.8 percent
The Senate bill recommends $2,317.4 million, an increase of $39.6 million or 1.7 percent

Total 6.2 Applied Research:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $4,647.8 million
The FY 2016 request is $4,713.2 million, an increase of $65.4 million or 1.4 percent
The House bill recommends $4,837.9 million, an increase of $190.1 million or 4.1 percent
The Senate bill recommends $4,928.2 million, an increase of $280.4 million or 6.0 percent

Total 6.3 Advanced Technology Development:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $5,326.4 million
The FY 2016 request is $5,464.4 million, an increase of $138.0 million or 2.6 percent
The House bill recommends $5,735.0 million, an increase of $408.6 million or 7.7 percent
The Senate bill recommends $5,577.9 million, an increase of $251.5 million or 4.7 percent

Total 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $12,252.0 million
The FY 2016 request is $12,266.6 million, an increase of $14.6 million or 0.1 percent
The House bill recommends $12,673.4 million, an increase of $421.4 million or 3.4 percent
The Senate bill recommends $12,823.5 million, an increase of $571.5 million or 4.7 percent

Total Army 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $2,554.9 million
The FY 2015 request is $2,200.6 million, a decrease of $354.3 million or 13.9 percent
The House bill recommends $2,410.0 million, a decrease of $144.9 million or 5.7 percent
The Senate bill recommends $2,599.0 million, an increase of $44.1 million or 1.7 percent

This section of the report includes language on expanding R&D and education in materials and metals processing science and engineering. [p. 157]

Total Navy 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $2,155.3 million
The FY 2015 request is $2,114.4 million or a decrease of $40.9 million or 1.9 percent
The House bill recommends $2,175.9 million, a decrease of $20.6 million or 1.0 percent
The Senate bill recommends $2,286.5 million, an increase of $131.2 million or 6.1 percent

This section of the report includes a recommendation that the Secretary of the Navy assess “the potential need for new and emerging compact and affordable Free Space Optical Communication technologies for tactical high bandwidth line-of-sight data link needs in multiple environments.” [p. 170]

Total Air Force 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $2,281.7 million
The FY 2016 request is $2,378.4 million or an increase of $96.7 million or 4.2 percent
The House bill recommends $2,404.4 million, an increase of $122.7 million or 5.4 percent
The Senate bill recommends $2,475.9 million, an increase of $194.2 million or 8.5 percent

Total Defense-Wide (i.e., DARPA, etc.) 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3:
The FY 2015 appropriation was $5,260.1 million
The FY 2016 request is $5,573.1 million, an increase of $313.0 million or 6.0 percent
The House bill recommends $5,683.1 million, an increase of $423.0 million or 8.0 percent
The Senate bill recommends $5,462.1 million, an increase of $202 million or 3.8 percent

The committee report represents the views of the Senate appropriators, but its recommendations may not be final.  Final outcomes on funding levels and directive language will depend on the legislative process, including reconciliation between Senate and House bills and reports.