Eight Reasons This Defense and Health Funding Bill Is Critical

John Boehner

On Wednesday, the House will consider a defense and health funding bill that delivers on a number of important priorities. The Senate passed this conference report last week by a vote of 93 to 7. If signed into law, this will mark the most spending bills enacted on time in 22 years. That’s one reason this bill is so critical. Here are eight more:

The rebuilding of our military. This bill boosts base funding for the military by $17 billion as part of our efforts to rebuild our national defense. It addresses our military readiness crisis by making significant investments in training, maintenance, and modernization, including $22.9 billion to get our troops ready to deploy, $45.3 billion to get our planes back in the air, and $38.2 billion to get our ships back to sea.

An increase in troop strength and new equipment. This bill funds an increase of 16,400 in our total troop end strength, and the procurement of new equipment, including 13 Navy ships, 93 F-35 aircraft, 18 C-130J aircraft, 58 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 13 V-22 aircraft, and the upgrade of 135 Abrams tanks.

The biggest pay raise for our troops in nine years. This bill fully funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops—the largest in nine years. It provides funding to support service members’ care through cancer research, traumatic brain injury research, and sexual assault prevention.

Defense funding on time for the first time in a decade. If enacted, the Defense Department won’t have to operate under a continuing resolution for the first time in 10 years. This gives the Pentagon much-needed stability and predictability after years of stopgap funding.

Resources to fight the opioid epidemic. This bill provides a historic level of funding—$3.8 billion—to fight the opioid epidemic, which claims the lives of more than 100 people in our country every day. These resources will go directly to helping treat addiction and expand access to mental health services in communities across the country.

Hurricane Florence relief. This bill makes an additional $8.8 billion available for Hurricane Florence relief. Note that the FAA reauthorization measure the House will take up this week includes $1.68 billion in supplemental funding for recovery efforts.

Better and safer schools. This bill boosts funding for special education and charter schools. It increases funding for grants that support school safety activities, including student mental health services and bullying prevention.

Workforce development. With a record 6.94 million job openings right now, this bill increases funding for career and technical education programs by nearly $95 million. It is another step toward making it easier for students to get the skills and training they need for good jobs.

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