June 25, 2020

Senate Panel Endorses Air Force’s 2021 Spending Plan

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s defense spending plan for 2021 would give the Air Force and Space Force largely what they want, with some notable tweaks.

“What this bipartisan bill does is straightforward: care for our troops; preserve peace through strength; and defend this great nation,” Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. “Congress has passed [a National Defense Authorization Act] every year for the last 59 years in a row—always on a bipartisan basis. Now, I look forward to working with my colleagues to make it an even 60 years.”

Under the SASC blueprintreleased in full on June 23, Air Force operations and maintenance would cost $34.2 billion next year. While about $53 million less than the service wanted, senators note that the coronavirus pandemic will cause Airmen to spend about $165 million less on regular missions, training, and more. Lawmakers are also cutting the recruitment budget by $20 million because of shrinking opportunities for outreach.

Still, senators added more than $120 million back to the ops budget so the Air Force can keep the A-10, KC-10, and KC-135 in its inventory, as well as to bolster cyber offense and defense.

The Space Force would receive its full request of $77.1 million for its first full year of operations since becoming a separate service within the Department of the Air Force.