Inhofe Statement on H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), today released a statement following Senate Passage of H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. This bill includes a $25 billion increase in defense spending over last year, funds a significant increase in force levels for all services, and provides the largest military pay raise in six years. 

H.R. 244 also includes $1.52 billion to increase border security that will be used for border infrastructure maintenance including roads, bridges, gates, updated technology and immigration enforcement. This bill passed the Senate by a vote of 78–19 and now goes to the President’s desk. 

I am pleased that after eight years of cuts to our military’s budget the Senate has passed a budget that begins to rebuild our depleted national defense,” Inhofe said. “Currently, our military’s readiness levels—which measures the risks our military takes while maintaining national security—are echoing the hollow force of the 1970s. And this is the case across the services. Combatant Commander’s demands for Army forces continues to increase while the Army’s end strength is decreasing, with only one-third of the Army’s brigade combat teams trained and ready to deploy. The Navy currently has 274 ships but the Chief of Naval Operations recently announced the need to grow to 355 ships. The Air Force is the smallest and oldest it has ever been, with only half of its fighter squadrons ready to fight in high-intensity combat. Only 43 percent of our Marine Corps aircraft are ready for combat, and our Marine aviators are at historical lows for monthly hours flown for proficiency. Passing this budget immediately reverses this trend. H.R. 244 funds an increase in force levels across all services by 36,000 personnel, as well as an increase for operations and maintenance with a focus on readiness which includes flying hours, training, additional depot maintenance, equipment and facility maintenance and base operations. 

“Additionally, this bill builds upon the administration’s great successes in securing our border and reducing illegal immigration. This bill continues to ramp up border security by providing $1.522 billion in additional funding that will allow agencies to build upon the 61 percent decrease in illegal immigration that we’ve seen since Trump took office. This budget increase is critical to ensuring that America is better protected from criminal aliens who put our communities and children at risk.” 

“This budget also builds upon Republican efforts to address and fight the heroin and opioid epidemic. This epidemic has hit Oklahoma hard as in just the last three years there have been at least 2,684 opioid related deaths in the state. We’ve seen a stark increase in wait times for state-funded treatment options too; the current waiting line is almost 900 people long. H.R. 244 fully funds the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the first addiction recovery legislation passed in 40 years, which was passed through the Republican-led Senate last year and signed into law. By funding CARA our communities and first responders are given the tools necessary to combat this terrible epidemic.” 

Background: 

Defense and National Security

  • $25 billion increase in defense spending compared to last year.
  • Provides $593 billion total for defense activities.
    • $516.1 billion base budget and $76.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.
  • Provides for increase in military personnel of 36,000 across services.
  • Fully funds largest military pay raise in six years (2.1 percent is in line with NDAA).
  • $9.4 billion increase for operations and maintenance with a focus on readiness activities, which include additional flying hours, training, depot maintenance, equipment, facility maintenance and base operations.
  • $980 million in additional appropriations for Counter ISIL Train and Equip funds and for the Counter ISIL Overseas Contingency Transfer Fund.
  • $410 million in assistance to Ukraine, including lethal aid.
  • $333 million for Missile Defense to protect against the likes of North Korea.
  • Fully supports the European Reassurance Initiative which supports increased U.S. military presence in Europe and additional exercises with regional partners and allies.
  • Includes $7.37 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation of new defense technologies which supports research and development for the F-35, GPS-III operational control and space segments, the B-21 program, next generation JSTARS aircraft, the RQ-4 Triton UAV and the Ohio Class Submarine replacement.
  • Provides $123.3 billion for equipment and upgrades: 13 Navy Ships, 74 F-35s; 14 F-18s, 62 UH-60s, 52 remanufactured and 7 new AH-64s; 145 Patriot missiles; 20 MQ-1 Gray Eagle UAVs; 28 Lakotas, 11 P-8As, 15 KC-46s, 17 C-130Js and $600 million for Israel Cooperative Programs.
  • $34.1 billion to provide care to troops, families, and retirees, to include $312 million for cancer research, $125 million for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research, and $296 million for sexual assault prevention and response programs. 

Immigration and Border Security

  • $1.522 billion additional dollars to use on projects like border infrastructure maintenance including roads, bridges, gates, updated technology and immigration enforcement.
  • This builds on the administration’s work to curb illegal immigration which is down 61 percent since Trump took office.
  • $772 million to address border security and tactical infrastructure investments.
  • $617 million for immigration enforcement, to cover additional detention beds and removal costs.
  • Increases for administrative priorities: units targeting at-large criminal aliens, visa overstay investigations, human trafficking/smuggling and child exploitation, and more immigration prosecutors.
  • $440 million for 10 new immigration judge teams to help reduce over 520,000 immigration case backlog and expedite the deportation of criminal aliens.
  • Directs DOJ to investigate and prosecute violations of federal criminal immigration laws associated with improper entry or illegal reentry following deportation.
  • Directs Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to offer Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the first opportunity to take into custody and remove individuals with pending federal detainers in order to preclude BOP from automatically deferring to States and municipalities that may be unwilling to cooperate with federal authorities on ICE detainers. 

Department of Justice and Cyber Security

  • $208 million increase in FBI funding.
    • Includes a $61 million increase for cybersecurity activities
  • Directs DOJ to enhance efforts to combat cybercrime, drug trafficking, civil rights and child sexual exploitation. 

Energy and Environment

  • Reduces EPA budget by $81 million to lowest funding level since 2008.
  • Allocates spending to critical areas like transportation, agriculture interests and water infrastructure.
  • Includes language to enable EPA to continue its implementation of last year’s TSCA bill.
  • Provides $5.2 million to continue the Risk Based Data Management System to promote state-level regulation of oil and gas operations.
  • Prohibits the application of the Clean Water Act to certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches.
  • Continues the prohibition on listing the sage-grouse as an endangered species.
  • Includes no funds for Green Climate Fund.
  • Prioritizes and increases funding for energy programs to encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and advance “all-of-the-above” solutions to U.S. energy independence.
  • $36 million increase above FY16 for technologies to advance coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil energy resources.
  • Provides more than $2.25 billion to the State Revolving Funds to help communities upgrade their aging water infrastructure.
  • Additional funding is included for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to further help improve water infrastructure.
  • The bill also prohibits the EPA from regulating livestock emissions and certain types of ammunition and fishing tackle.
  • $905 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a decrease of $85 million below the FY2016 enacted level and $65 million below the budget request, which reflects significant savings identified by the Commission. 

Infrastructure

  • $1.2 billion increase in DOT funding, consistent with FAST Act.
  • $49 million increase to Army Corps to include new starts, for which the Tulsa/West Tulsa levee project will have the opportunity to compete.
  • Fully funds Contract Towers program and funds integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into airspace 

Healthcare

  • $2 billion increase in NIH funding—in line with the increase provided in the 21st Century Cures Act.     
    • This is the second year in a row that NIH has received increased funding, and $400 million of the additional funds is allocated to Alzheimer’s research.
  • Fully funds the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) legislation to combat opioid abuse.
  • Bocks the use of federal funds to bailout insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act’s risk corridor program.