WASHINGTON — Congress on Tuesday released its fiscal 2023 omnibus spending bill that includes $27.9 billion in emergency U.S. Department of Defense spending for Ukraine on top of a $69.3 billion budget increase for the Pentagon over FY 22 levels.
The bill funds the 8% total defense budget increase that Congress passed last week and includes $797.7 billion in DoD funding to help the Pentagon cope with inflation, bolster the Navy and expand industrial base capacity.
“This legislation will keep America safe by giving our troops a well-earned pay raise, ensuring our servicemen and women are well-trained and well-equipped with the most up-to-date technology and shifting resources toward cutting-edge programs that’ll maintain our fighting edge over adversaries like China and Russia,” Senate defense spending panel Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a statement.
A congressional report accompanying the bill notes that it provides $8 billion “to offset cost factors that have increased” since President Joe Biden submitted his budget proposal in March. The inflation adjustment includes $1 billion in acquisition-related costs and $3.7 billion for fuel. Republicans and some centrist Democrats have hammered the Biden administration for underestimating the inflation rate in its budget proposal.
The Defense Department topline is $24.7 billion more than Biden sought in his FY 23 budget proposal. And the emergency Pentagon aid for Kyiv is $6.2 billion more than the White House requested when it submitted its fourth Ukraine supplemental spending request to Congress last month.
The defense appropriations topline also excludes a further $19 billion for military construction, including family housing projects. That’s up more than 27% from fiscal 2022 levels.
If Congress passes the omnibus by the Dec. 23 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, this will bring the total level of emergency Pentagon spending for Ukraine that lawmakers have passed to $61.4 billion in less than a year to help Kyiv ward off Russia’s invasion.
The omnibus includes $9.3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Pentagon to contract for new weapons and equipment to Kyiv.
Another $11.9 billion in the Ukraine supplemental spending is allocated for the Defense Department to replenish weapons that the U.S. has already sent to Kyiv from its existing stockpiles under presidential drawdown authority. The bill also increases Biden’s drawdown authority for Ukraine to $14.5 billion for FY 23, allowing him to continue transferring weapons from U.S. stocks.
On top of that, the omnibus includes $924 million to expand the defense industrial base’s capacity to produce munitions in the hopes of allowing DoD to procure munitions at a faster rate. The FY 23 National Defense Authorization Act also approved $2.7 billion in across-the-board munitions funding while granting emergency waivers to Pentagon purchasing requirements and multi-year contracting authorities in a bid to faster replenish U.S. munitions sent to Ukraine.
The Ukraine spending in the bill also requires the Defense Department to report on enhanced end-use monitoring of weapons supplied to Ukraine, while providing $6 million to the Pentagon Inspector General to oversee the aid for Kyiv. It also gives $7.5 million to the Government Accountability Office for additional oversight of Ukraine aid.
Ships and F-35 procurement
The omnibus allocates $31.9 billion for the Navy to procure an additional 12 ships. That includes $6.9 billion for three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers despite the White House’s opposition to acquiring a third such ship.
Additionally, the bill provides $4.5 billion for two Virginia class fast attack submarines, $3.1 billion for the Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine, another $31 billion for two amphibious assault ships and $1.1 billion for a Constellation Class Frigate.
In addition to shipbuilding, the omnibus provides $8.5 billion to procure 61 F-35 fighter jets and restore another 19. That’s on top of another $2.1 billion to continue modernizing the F-35 program.
The bill also includes an additional $2.2 billion for space-related procurement.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.