The House has approved its version of the Fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill. The legislation, said Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, “makes record investments in our nation’s military, authorizing a $726 billion budget to further strengthen our national security, provide our men and women in uniform with the tools they need to do their jobs, and take care of our service members and their families.” The bill passed by a 229 to 186 vote on May 28. It contains several controversial clauses like funding for the F-35’s F136 engine (which the Pentagon doesn’t want; see Still Swinging, below), a 1.9 percent boost in military pay (0.5 percent more than requested), and language making trade issues a consideration in the Air Force KC-X tanker contest (see Requirements Creep and Tanker Hopefuls React, above). There is also a measure clearing the way for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (see The DADT Compromise). (Skelton statement) (Bill summary)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.