Bush signs 2008 Defense Budget
WASHINGTON — Congress must still finish a host of domestic budget bills and negotiate how to continue funding operations and Iraq and Afghanistan, but this week did finalize the basics of Defense spending for fiscal 2008.
The $459.6 billion Defense appropriations plan, signed into law Tuesday by President Bush, outlines spending for all major military equipment purchases next year, sets aside $2.6 billion for military family programs and ensures a 3.5 percent pay raise for all military personnel starting Jan. 1.
Defense Department civilian workers are not covered under that pay-raise language, but Congress typically uses that figure as a guide for federal employees’ pay as well.
House members included language requiring background checks for all contractors working in combat zones, to ensure those in security positions don’t have a criminal background. Both chambers back language opposing any permanent U.S. military facilities in Iraq, and the use of torture in dealing with any military prisoners.
Both chambers also blocked Pentagon efforts to increase Tricare co-pays to help defray rising medical costs, and mandated new reports on how nuclear components are stored and moved by the military in light of the incident at North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base in August.
Lawmakers opted not to include funding for Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the appropriations bill despite the White House’s request for an additional $196.4 billion in supplemental combat operations.
Those issues, including what money will be available for recruiting and retention bonuses, will instead be included in a smaller bridge fund measure before Congress this week.