The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved its version of the Fiscal 2017 defense appropriations bill with a vote of 371 to 48. The $577.9 billion bill? provides a $5.2 billion increase over Fiscal 2016 enacted levels, but total FY17 defense funding actually reaches $583.7 billion when combined with the $5.8 billion in supplemental funding provided in the December continuing resolution. The vote is the beginning of an effort to fund the government before the CR expires in April. The spending bill also includes $61.8 billion for overseas contingency operations, which funds the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, among other things. “Passage of this bill—with such a strong bipartisan vote—sends an important message to the men and women of the military, as well as to allies and potential adversaries around the world,” said House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). “It is an essential first step to repair and rebuild our military. But, it is not enough. We must follow it up with a supplemental appropriations bill and a FY 2018 funding level that fulfills this first responsibility of the federal government, which is to defend the country.”
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.