U.S. House and Senate lawmakers completed the conference markup of the FY19 defense authorization bill on July 23. The defense policy bill adheres to the spending levels agreed upon in the bipartisan budget act, providing a defense base budget of $639.1 billion. That figure comprises $616.9 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Defense, $21.9 billion for nuclear programs in the Department of Energy, and around $300 million for defense-related activities outside the DoD. Another $69 billion is provided for Overseas Contingency Operations, for a total of $708.1 billion in discretionary defense spending. When including $8.9 billion in mandatory spending, the FY19 topline authorized in the legislation totals $717 billion. The separate congressional appropriations process will finalize how much money the military actually has available to spend in FY19.
Orbital ATK is asking U.S. lawmakers to end a 20-year ban on using decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to carry commercial satellites into orbit. Orbital ATK has built a successful business around using retired ICBMs to launch military satellites.[i] Its Minotaur rocket has lifted off 25 times since 2000,[ii] and has demonstrated an ability to carry multiple payloads to orbit in one launch (for example, in November 2013 a Minotaur I carried 30 payloads into orbit).