House Passes Pentagon Spending Bill With No Aid to Egypt
The House voted today to give the U.S. Army and Navy more procurement money than they sought for fiscal 2014 -- funds designated for Blackhawk helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. (UTX) and Patriot missile interceptors from Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)
The 315-109 vote to advance the almost $600 billion spending bill came after a debate on limiting funding for the National Security Agency in light of revelations about U.S. surveillance activities by former security contractor Edward Snowden.
The House rejected 205-217 an amendment to prohibit the NSA from collecting phone records unless a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order stipulates that the records pertain to someone under investigation.
“The amendment defeated on the House Floor would have eliminated a crucial counterterrorism tool by dismantling a critical NSA program put in place in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, said in a joint statement. “The charge that the program tramples on the privacy of citizens is simply wrong.”
The House deleted from the bill $553.8 million that would have been used to purchase 30 Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-run arms trader, and then turn the choppers over to Afghanistan.
The prohibition on using Pentagon funds for operations in Egypt would not affect a separate avenue of U.S. financial support. Egypt receives about $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid by way of the annual State Department and Foreign Operations appropriations bill.
The bill would give the Pentagon about $512.5 billion in funding not directly related to war -- $5.1 billion less than the amount enacted for fiscal 2013, which doesn’t include the spending cuts caused by sequestration, and $3.4 billion less than President Barack Obama requested.
The Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program -- F-35 jets made by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin -- would receive the White House-requested amount of $5.14 billion for 29 aircraft, with six for the Marine Corps, four for the Navy and 19 for the Air Force.
The measure would appropriate $129.6 billion for pay and benefits for active duty, reserve and National Guard members, an increase of $2.1 billion from the fiscal 2013 enacted level, though $750 million less than the White House request.
A pay increase of 1.8 percent, rather than the 1 percent raise requested by the Pentagon, would go to all military personnel starting Jan. 1, 2014. Service members received a 1.7 percent pay raise for this year.
Civilian personnel wouldn’t receive an increase under the bill; their pay has been frozen for three years. The Obama administration has requested a 1 percent increase for civilian personnel.
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