FY 2016 Defense Appropriations Snapshot

Published: June 24, 2015


Funding priorities in the current Defense appropriations bill making its way through Congress show a commitment to boosting funding for procurement and readiness.

Although the latest Defense Appropriations bill (S. 1558) is stalled in the Senate and although the President has vowed to veto the bill, it is instructive to take a look at the appropriations for the Department of Defense that Congress would like to make, as it provides insight into what funding levels could be in fiscal year 2016. Table 1 below summarizes proposed funding for the DoD under most major appropriations categories. There is no proposed budget for Military Construction in the current appropriations bill.

Air Force

The base budget proposed for Air Force in FY 2016 compares favorably with the funding the service received in the FY 2015 Omnibus legislation. Proposed funding for Military Personnel is $600 million higher (FY 2015 = $27.4 billion), while Procurement is $6 billion higher (FY 2015 = $34 billion), and Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation is $2.4 billion higher (FY 2015 = $23.6 billion). Funding for Operations and Maintenance, however, takes a big hit, coming in at $8.5 billion less than the FY 2015 total of $34.5 billion.    


The proposed base budget for Army shows divergences roughly similar to that of Air Force, with proposed funding for Military Personnel coming in flat at $41 billion, Procurement rising by $2.1 billion (FY 2015 = $13.9 billion), and RDT&E rising by $300 million (FY 2015 = $6.7 billion). Like in Air Force, the Army’s O&M funding takes the biggest hit, coming in $5 billion lower than FY 2015’s $32 billion.


The proposed base budget for Navy comes out the best of all the Military Departments, showing a slight increase in Military Personnel of $500 million (FY 2015 = $27.5 billion), a big increase of $4.7 billion in Procurement (FY 2015 = $41.3 billion), and a $2 billion increase in RDT&E (FY 2015 = $16 billion. Navy O&M funding sees a big reduction of $11.6 billion (FY 2015 = $37.6 billion).


Proposed funding for the USMC remains basically flat with MILPERS coming in at $200 million higher than FY 2015’s $12.8 billion and Procurement seeing a slight bump upward of $65 million from FY 2015’s $935 million. O&M for the Corps is reduced by $600 million from $5.6 billion in FY 2015.


Lastly, proposed Defense-Wide funding sees across the board increases of $1 billion in O&M, $600 million in Procurement, and $1.8 billion in RDT&E.

So far so good. Now, compare the base budget figures with funding proposed in the Overseas Contingency Operations (Table 2) budget and you can see why the White House has said that S. 1558 is a non-starter.

Proposed funding for O&M in the OCO budget more than makes up for the cuts in the base budget.  In addition, all the MILDEPs receive substantial boosts in Procurement funding.


From the proposed numbers for FY 2016 we can conclude the following:

  • S. 1558 is clearly a partisan political budget demonstrating that there is no will in the GOP-dominated Congress to cut Defense spending or to stick with sequestration spending caps, even though those caps are poised to rise as we move toward 2020.
  • Curiously, despite previously announced cuts to the number of military personnel, the MILPERS funding numbers show little sign that reducing personnel will lower Defense spending.
  • Big increases in Defense-Wide RDT&E funding demonstrate a financial commitment to Defense R&D spending that is called for in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.
Finally, S. 1558 is dead-on-arrival if it lands on the President’s desk, suggesting that if the budget impasse is not resolved by the passage of revised legislation, we are likely to see Continuing Resolutions in FY 2016, if not an omnibus budget package that attempts to revise Budget Control Act caps.