The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2024 Defense and Homeland Security appropriations bills, passing all twelve appropriation bills out of the committee before Congress goes on its August break starting tomorrow.

In a 27-1 vote, the committee approved the FY2024 Defense Appropriations Bill. In a 24-4 vote, the committee approved the FY2024 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. The bills now head to the Senate for a full vote before being considered by the House.

“They are solid bills that provide necessary resources to keep our families safe and healthy, our military the best in the world, our economy strong, our communities growing and thriving, and to keep us moving forward – not back,” said Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“This committee just finished passing all twelve individual appropriations bills in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes – and we did it before the end of July. Everyone who follows this process knows: that is a big deal,” concluded Sen. Murray.

FY2024 Defense Appropriations Bill

The FY2024 Defense Appropriations Act – which funds agencies and programs under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community – provides approximately $831.8 billion in total funding, $33.5 billion more than FY2023.

“I’m committed to securing a budget that invests in our ability to stay ahead of the threat of China, defend our country from foreign adversaries, and take care of our servicemembers and their families. Today’s markup is a critical step toward delivering for our military, and I look forward to getting our defense budget across the finish line,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

Some key tech highlights from the bill include:

Modernization Investments in the Army and the Airforce: The bill supports modernization across all eight cross-functional teams at the Army, as well as ongoing investments for major acquisition programs: including long-range hypersonic weapons, future vertical lift, and precision strike missile development. For the Air Force, the bill includes $280 million for future engine technologies and $200 million to expand the industrial base for the Air Force’s Ground-based Strategic Deterrent program.

Investments in Science and Technology: The bill includes $20.3 billion in science and technology initiatives. It provides $770 million more than the president’s budget request for basic research, the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, STEM research, and alternative and operational energy research to invest in our technological future.

Artificial Intelligence: The bill includes $141 million above the president’s budget request to continue implementing recommendations from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. The bill adds $90 million to advance the DoD’s adoption of AI, accelerating the chief digital and artificial intelligence officer’s plans by one fiscal year.

“As chairman of the Senate committee that sets the military’s budget, my top priority is making sure our armed forces have the necessary resources to defend our freedoms and keep our nation safe,” said Sen. Tester.

Sen. Jeff Merkley voted not to advance the bill.

FY2024 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

The FY2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill provides $61.3 billion in total discretionary funding.

“Our economy depends on our ability to ensure goods and people can move through our ports and borders in an orderly and timely way – and our security depends on our ability to do this while stopping threats like fentanyl and trafficking of other illicit drugs, human trafficking, and more. That’s why the investments provided in this bill are so important,” said Sen. Murray.

Some key highlights from the bill include:

Supporting Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Pay Equity: The bill includes $1.1 billion to align TSA workforce pay with the rest of the Federal workforce, retain staff, and reduce wait times for passengers as part of an effort initially funded in FY 2023 and implemented in July 2023. This initiative allows TSA to address recruiting and retention challenges as the agency responds to increased travel volumes. Since the initiative was announced, TSA attrition is down nearly 50 percent compared to the beginning of FY 2023, while hiring is up.

Stopping the Flow of Fentanyl: The bill provides $719 million for Customs and Border Protection – $649 million more than FY 2023 – to improve the detection and seizure of fentanyl and other narcotics at ports of entry with investments in new technology and personnel.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.