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US House panel unveils $696.5 bn defence policy bill

IANS | Washington |

The US House Armed Services Committee unveiled a $696.5 billion defence policy bill that is more than what was requested previously by President Donald Trump, the media reported.

The committee's version of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) would authorize $28.5 billion more than what was requested by Trump, but is $8.5 billion less than what the committee's chairman said he was moving ahead with last week, The Hill magazine reported on Monday.

The bill would be broken down into $621.5 billion for the base budget and $75 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

Of the OCO, $10 billion would be used for base budget requirements.

Last week, committee Chairman Mac Thornberry said he was moving forward with a $640 billion base budget, a number he has been pushing for months. Coupled with $65 billion for the OCO account, the total would have been $705 billion.

On Monday, committee aides said the chairman received the assurances he was looking for, but declined to elaborate.

The bill would add 17,000 soldiers — 10,000 soldiers for active duty, 4,000 for Army National Guard and 3,000 for reserve — to the army but in line with the unfunded requirements list the service sent to Congress, reports The Hill magazine.

The bill will also provide a 2.4 per cent pay raise to troops, above the 2.1 per cent requested by the administration.

On aircraft, the bill would provide 17 more F-35s than requested and eight more F/A-18s. In all, the bill would provide 87 aircraft above the administration's request for 289.

Additionally, the bill would provide $2.5 billion more for missile defence than the $9.9 billion requested by the administration. The extra money would go toward research and development, and procurement.