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Senate committee passes FY2017 defense bill

The bill offers $515 billion in base funding and $58.6 billion in overseas contingency funds.

By Geoff Ziezulewicz
Senate committee passes FY2017 defense bill
U.S. Soldiers wait to board a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, 2008. The U.S. Senate's Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal 2017 defense bill Thursday, one leaders say balances readiness, procurement and overseas warfighting needs. UPI Photo/Erik Gudmundson/U.S. Air Force | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed the Fiscal 2017 defense budget bill Thursday.

Approved 30-0, it features $515.9 billion in base Defense Department funding, as well as $58.6 billion for overseas contingency operations, according to a committee statement.

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The legislation also redirects savings from $15.1 billion found in more than 450 specific budget cuts, the committee said.

"U.S. national security interests receive necessary support within this bill, which has broad bipartisan support," Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said in the statement. "The bill sustains a strong U.S. force structure, and it makes significant investments in readiness, shipbuilding programs, aircraft procurement and missile defense."

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved its own defense bill earlier this month.

It proposed shifting billions in warfighting funds to the Pentagon's base budget, a move that prompted the White House to threaten a veto.

The Senate's bill increases Navy shipbuilding to $20.5 billion, an increase of $2.1 billion, according to the committee.

It also fully funds an active duty force of 1,281,900, a reserve component end strength of 801,200 and a 1.6 percent military pay raise.

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Among other highlights, the bill allocates $1 billion for icebreaker ship construction in a nod to the increasing strategic importance of the Arctic.

The last U.S. icebreaker was made after funds were approved in 1990, according to the committee.

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