Appropriations for FY1996 :
One of a series of CRS Reports on FY1996 appropriations
George H . Siehl
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division
Updated October 5, 1995
Appropriations For FY1996 :
The military construction (MilCon) appropriations bill finances (1) military
construction projects in the United States and overseas ; (2) military family
housing operations and construction ; (3) U .S . contributions to the NATO
Security Investment Program (formerly called the NATO Infrastructure
Program) ; and (3) most base realignment and closure costs, including
construction of new facilities for functions being transferred and environmental
cleanup at closing sites . The Administration has requested $10,698 million in
budget authority for military construction in FY1996, an increase over the
$8,868 million appropriated for FY1996 .
Congressional action on the annual MilCon appropriations bill normally
follows action in each house on the annual national defense authorization bill .
The authorization bill typically reviews funding for military construction
activities at the same level of detail as the MilCon appropriations bill, and most
differences are reconciled in conference action on each measure . This year,
House action on the defense authorization bill is expected in late May or early
June, and the MilCon appropriations bill may come up very shortly thereafter .
Last year, debate over the MilCon appropriations bill, especially in the
Senate, focused on the issue of congressional additions to the Administration
request . This year, that issue is less likely to arise because the Administration's
budget request does not represent a decline from usual levels of funding, so the
key congressional committees may not elect to boost funding . The major
interest this year is in an Administration plan to improve military family
housing . Long-standing issues include domestic versus overseas expenditures
and contributions to the NATO construction fund .
Area of Expertise
George H . Siehl
Base closures ; natural resources . FAND
Defense budget .
Key Policy Issues
Major Funding Trends
For Additional Reading
This CRS report is one of a series
on FY1996 appropriations .
These reports are available from CRS
by calling 7-7132.
CRS Appropriations Series
Commerce, Justice, State,
and the Judiciary
District of Columbia
Energy and Water
Labor, Health & Human
Services, and Education
Treasury, Postal Service,
VA, HUD, and
Independent Agenc es
Appropriations for FY1996 :
The military construction (MilCon) appropriations bill funds construction
projects and real property maintenance of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and their
reserve components ; defense-wide construction ; U .S . contributions to the NATO
Security Investment Program (formerly called the NATO Infrastructure
Program) ; and military family housing operations and construction . The bill
also provides funding for the Base Realignment and Closure Account, which
finances most base realignment and closure costs, including construction of new
facilities for functions being transferred and environmental cleanup at closing
sites . The FY1996 budget requests $10,697,995,000 of budget authority for
military construction, up from $8,868,200,000 in FY1995 .
appropriated construction funds are made available for obligation for a period
of five fiscal years .
The military construction appropriations bill ($8 .9 billion for FY1995) is
only one of several annual pieces of legislation that concern funding for national
defense . Other major legislation includes (1) the defense appropriations bill,
that provides funds for all military activities of the Department of Defense
except for military construction ($243 .5 billion for FY1995), see, CRS Report95622 F ; (2) the energy and water development appropriations bill, that provides
funding for atomic energy defense activities of the Department of Energy ($10 .3
billion for defense-related activities in FY1995), see, CRS Report 95-625 ENR ;
and (3) the national defense authorization bill, which authorizes appropriations
for national defense . Two other appropriations bills -- VA-HUD-Independent
Agencies and Commerce-Justice-State -- also include small amounts for national
defense . In addition, the energy and water development appropriations bill
provides funds for civil projects carried out by the U .S . Army Corps of
Engineers -- this funding is not included in the National Defense Budget
Function (Function 050) .
MilCon appropriations are the major, but not the only, source of funds for
facility investments by the military services and defense agencies . The defense
appropriations bill provides some funds for real property maintenance in
operation and maintenance accounts . In addition, funds for construction and
maintenance of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation-related facilities are provided
in part through proceeds of commissaries, recreational user fees, and other
Status of Appropriations Legislation :
Senate Conference Report Approval
H . Rcpt .
09/20/95 09/22/95 104-32
Congressional action on the annual MilCon appropriations bill normally
follows action in each house on the annual national defense authorization . The
authorization bill typically reviews funding for military construction activities
at the same level of detail as the MilCon appropriations bill, and most
differences are reconciled in conference action on each measure .
The MilCon bill is the first FY1996 appropriations bill sent to the White
House . It was signed into law by President Clinton on Oct . 3, 1995 as P .L . 10432 . The Senate had approved the conference report, H . Rept . 104-247, on
September 22, 1995, after the House voted approval on September 20 . Some
had speculated that President Clinton might veto the bill because it is $479
million over the amount he requested, and because the increases are at odds
with pending cuts in domestic programs in other appropriations bills being
finalized in Congress . This was not the case, however .
House action: The House Committee on National Security reported out
the FY1996 Defense Authorization bill, H . R . 1530, on June 1, 1995 (H . Rept .
104-131) . The military construction section of the bill -- Division B -- was $500
million higher than the Administration request ($10 .698 billion) . The total
authorization in the bill as reported, $11,197,995,000 stipulated $6,878,840,000
for military construction, BRAC closure operations, and NATO infrastructure .
Family housing construction and support were set at $4,319,155,000 . Table 2
shows funding levels for the various MilCon accounts at key points throughout
the appropriations process .
On June 7, 1996, the Subcommittee on Military Construction approved a
bill for consideration by the full Appropriations Committee . On June 13, the
full committee ordered the FY1996 Military Construction bill, H .R . 1817,
Funding levels and specific projects are the same as in the
Authorization bill, H .R . 1530 .
House floor consideration of H .R . 1817 began June 16, 1995, and was
completed with passage on the third day of debate, June 21, 1995, by a vote of
319 to 105 . Several amendments made minor cuts from the amounts reported
from the Appropriations Committee . Specifically :
-$14 million in land acquis o
for an Army Museum adjoining
Washington, D .C . was eliminated on a vote of 261-137 .
Construction subcommittee had previously cut the request from $17 million ;
-- $6 .9 million for construction of Air Force housing was cut by a vote of
266-160 . The amendment targeted units costing more than $200,000 ;
Six amendments that would have cut projects or accounts by a total of
$184 .5 million were rejected, as was an amendment to cut the military
construction and NATO infrastructure accounts by 5% . Advocates of these cuts
noted that the FY1996 proposal was 28% higher than FY1995 appropriation .
Supporters of H .R . 1817 said the increase was necessary because so little had
been done to improve military housing in the past decade .
The House approved a total of $11 .177 billion in the MilCon Appropriations
bill it sent to the Senate .
Senate action : The MilCon Appropriations subcommittee marked-up H .R .
1817 on July 17th . On July 19 the full committee marked-up and ordered the
bill reported at a funding level of $11,158,995,000 . This is $336 million above
the reported Senate authorization mark and $18 million below the House
approved MilCon appropriation level . The amount reported from the Senate
Appropriations Committee exceeded the Administra on budget request by $461
The MilCon Appropriations bill, H.R . 1817, was brought to the Senate floor
and approved by a vote of 84 to 10 on July 21 . 1995 . The bill was approved
with the amendments reported from the Appropriations Committee (see Table
2 for dollar changes from the House bill) . The Senate passed appropriation bill
makes rescissions of over $55 .7 million from prior year appropriations ; the
House passed measure contained no rescissions . The Senate bill contains $228
million in military construction projects that had not been authorized . These
projects are in ten accounts within the MilCon appropriation as listed in section
126 of the bill .
The committee report notes that the bill is $2 .4 billion more than the 1995
appropriation and $461 million more than the Administration budget request,
but $18 million under the level approved by the House . Table 2 shows the
funding differences in each account between the House and Senate passed
versions of H .R . 1817 . This will be the basis of a conference on the bill in
Senator Bingaman offered an amendment on the floor to reduce the funding
for military construction and family housing by $300 million, but it was rejected
in a 77-18 vote .
During debate, Senator McCain, a cosponsor of the
amendment, noted that all the projects in the bill met the criteria that he
suggested and the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted last year (see
discussion under key policy issues, below) . Nonetheless, he argued that military
construction projects were not the highest priority needs of the services . The
money added to the MilCon bill, he said, "would be better used for higher
priority requirements . . . or to meet the must-pay bills for ongoing contingency
Senator McCain noted the "good news" that the military
construction add-ons for FY1996 would be significantly less than less than the
$1 billion added last year . Senator Reid, ranking member of the MilCon
subcommittee, subsequently noted, "there are lots of other places these moneys
could be spent, but this is a Military Construction Subcommittee budget and
that is where we are obligated to spend the money," not on training, contingency
operations or other higher priority requirements .
Other than the Bingaman amendment, two issues were debated at length
by the Senate : the funding level for construction of National Guard and Reserve
unit facilities, and the costs of environmental cleanup at closing bases . Senator
Bond, cochair of the National Guard caucus, stated that the administration
requested on $18 million for all Army Guard units in the 50 States, and that the
$85 million allocated to the Air National Guard was only half the amount
needed for required projects . Senator Burns, chair of the MilCon subcommittee,
said that because so much money was needed for cleanup, it was necessary to
add the funds requested for Guard and Reserve projects . These items are
discussed further under the following Key Policy Issues section .
The Senate Armed Services Committee reported S . 1026, the National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, on July 12, 1995 (Senate Report
104-112) . The report recommended a total of $10 .82 billion for the MilCon
portion of the authorization bill, with over $6 .6 billion for military construction
and nearly $4 .2 billion for military housing and support for FY1996 . The
Senate authorization recommendation was about $120 million more than the
Administration request for $10 .704 billion . S . 1026 would authorize the plan to
promote private financing and development of military housing, and
recommends full funding for the Base Closure and Realignment accounts .
The Senate Defense Authorization bill, S . 1124 was passed on Sept . 6, 1995,
following debate on August 3, 4, and 5 . Prior to final passage, the Senate
approved an amendment by Senator Thurmond to authorize an additional $228
million for 46 military construction projects . These projects were funded in the
MilCon Appropriations bill passed by the Senate on July 21, so the Thurmond
amendment would bring the authorization and appropriation bills into
Conference action: Conferees met and reported H .R . 1817, the MilCon
Appropriations bill for FY1996, on Sept . 14, 1995 (H . Rept . 104-247) . The
reported bill appropriates a total of $11,177,009,000 . The amount is $479 more
than requested by the administration, and $2 .4 billion above FY1995
appropriations . Table 2 provides a break out and a comparison with the budget
request and funding levels earlier approved by the two chambers .
The House approved the conference report by a vote of 326 yeas to 98 nays
on Sept . 20, 1995 . The Senate approved the conference report by a vote of 86
yeas to 14 nays on Sept . 22, 1995 .
Key Policy Issues
Issues associated with military construction funding include the following :
Family housing initiatives :
The National Secu y Committee has
agreed with an Administration proposal to establish incentives for the private
sector to build new family housing on, or near, military facilities . To deal with
the nagging problem of low-quality housing, H .Rept . 104-131 states, "The
committee proposes to address these shortfalls with both short-term
improvements and legislative changes to the military construction program to
enhance public-private partnerships in the development of military family
housing" . The proposal calls for carrying out several pilot projects over the next
few years . Section 2801 of H .R . 1530 authorizes several alternatives whereby
the secretary could acquire and improve family housing, including the ability to
contract and lease family housing . DOD would be authorized to contribute up
to 35% of the cost of the projects, with the investment being in the form of cash,
current housing, and/or real property . Property at closing bases is one possible
source of real property that could be exchanged for the development of housing
needed at other facilities . A Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund is
established as the sole source of funding for the program .
The Military Construction Appropriations bill, H .R . 1817 provides the $22
mi ion requested by the Administration and authorized by the National Security
Committee for pilot projects under the Defense Family Housing initiative .
Senate Committees have also approved this initiative . Section 2811 of the
Senate Authorization bill, S . 1026, supports use of the private sector to improve
housing opportunities for military personnel and would establish a Department
of Defense Housing Improvement Fund through Sept . 30, 2000 . The Senate
MilCon bill as reported from Committee provides $22 million for operation of
the fund, the amount requested by the Administration and approved by the
Most agree that steps to correct inadequacies in military housing are
needed . Last year Congress added funds above those DOD requested for
barracks renovation . This year, Secretary of Defense Perry made plans to
improve family housing a centerpiece of his congressional testimony on the
FY1996 defense budget . The secretary pointed out that military housing needs
have changed dramatically in recent years as the all-volunteer force has evolved .
A much larger share of the force is now comprised of older personnel with
families . Moreover, military service members, like the rest of the population,
have come to expect modern conveniences and design in their housing -including closet space, air conditioning, space for washers and dryers, etc .
Secretary Perry has stressed that the lack of these quality of life features can
adversely affect troop morale and retention .
These losses, in turn, can
undermine military readiness .
Congressional additions to the Administration request : The House
Defense Authorization bill approves $500 million more for military construction
than the Administration requested . All of the added projects were priorities of
the services for which funding was not otherwise available . The Military
Construction Appropriations bill provides this additional funding for projects
included in the Authorizing measure .
Last year, a major focus of debate over the MilCon appropriations bill,
especially in the Senate, concerned the issue of congressional additions to the
Administration request . Senator McCain, in particular, objected to the provision
of substantial amounts for projects that the Administration had not requested,
arguing that such projects largely represent "pork barrel" spending and come at
the expense of higher priority defense programs . In Senate floor consideration
of the MilCon bill, the managers accepted a McCain amendment that called for
certain criteria to be applied to any projects proposed to be added -- including
a provision that any project to be added should be included in military service
lists of needed projects . The amendment was not incorporated into the final
conference version of the bill, however, and the conference agreement provided
over $900 million for unrequested construction . From FY1990 through FY1994,
according to Senator McCain, Congress added an average of $880 million per
year in unrequested military construction projects . The MilCon bill reported
from the Senate Appropriations Committee for FY1996 exceeds the
Administration request by $461 million .
Senator McCain has raised similar questions about congressional ad itions
to Administration defense budget requests in other areas besides military
construction . The whole matter is, to say the least, extremely contentious .
Within the MilCon budget, the debate over congressional additions involves
several overlapping issues . MilCon proponents, including facility advocates in
the military services, argue that military facilities have been systematically
underfunded for many years -- even, some say, in the midst of the buildup of the
early- to mid-1980s . Indeed, this same line of argument took place during the
House Appropriations Committee mark-up on the FY1996 MilCon bill . Some
noted that the funding level was up 28% from last year, while others defended
the increase as simply making good previous shortfalls in funding for new
construction or maintenance of existing facilities . The current DOD backlog of
deferred maintenance and repair for family housing alone totals over $2 billion
A goal of DOD facility managers has been to allocate about 3% of the plant
replacement value of DOD facilities to construction and maintenance each year - a figure somewhat below the average for public facilities nationwide . Actual
funding, however, has typically run at 1 to 2% of plant replacement value, which
represents a replacement cycle of 50 to 100 years for defense facilities . Facility
proponents, therefore, commonly feel that congressional additions are to be
welcomed . (For a discussion of this and related issues, see Martin Cohen and
Stephen Daggett, Military Construction : Current Controversies and Long-Term
Issues, CRS Report 91-669 F, Sept . 8, 1991 .)
A related issue is that, in the FY1993 budget request and again in the
FY1995 request, senior officials in the Defense Department imposed a freeze on
all but essential military construction projects -- i .e ., projects needed to comply
with environmental regulations or other mandates . The official rationale in
each year was that the military base closure process made it impossible to
determine which projects should go ahead and which should not . In both cases,
however, the key congressional committees were skeptical of this reasoning . In
the FY1995 cycle, in each house, the appropriations allocations to the military
construction subcommittees reflected a substantial increase over the
Administration request to keep total MilCon funding in line with the prior year
level . This necessarily entailed a substantial number of congressional additions
to the request .
Finally, congressional MilCon subcommittees -- including authorization as
well as appropriation subcommittees -- have frequently taken issue with
Administration military construction priorities . In the early 1990s, for example,
the committees frequently reduced amounts requested for construction
overseas -- on the ground that troop levels abroad should be reduced and that
allied burden sharing contributions should increase -- and reallocated the funds
to domestic projects . In addition, congressional committees have, at various
times, added unrequested funds for quality of life improvements such as day care
centers and barracks renovation, arguing that the military services have tended
to neglect these areas in favor of "warfighting" investments . There is also the
issue of funding National Guard and Reserve component construction projects .
National Guard and Reserve expenditures : Congress traditionally has
added funds for National Guard and Reserve construction projects . Supporters
of these additions contend, as did Senator Bond during the floor debate on
FY1996 MilCon Appropriations, that the DOD depends upon Congress to
adequately fund these programs after active duty personnel in the Pentagon see
to it that their own needs are met in the budget request . Critics see Guard and
Reserve projects as largely pork barrel spending, or as lesser contributions to
the readiness of American arms . In the mid to late 1980's, Congress varied from
the administration budget requests for Guard and Reserve projects by cutting
as much as $38 .9 million or adding $28 .7 million . In 1989, however, the
additions topped $132 million and grew to over $400 million in FY1995 . This
funding history is shown in Table 3.
Overseas expenditures : Recent MilCon budget requests have included
only very small amounts for construction at U .S . military bases abroad, with the
largest amounts for the NATO Infrastructure Program, which was renamed the
NATO Security Investment Program in December 1994 . Both the FY1996
Defense Authorization and MilCon Appropriations bills reported from
committees cut $18 million from the $179 million the Administration requested
for NATO infrastructure . The MilCon subcommittees have traditionally
scrutinized overseas funding requests very closely, and Congress has reduced
NATO Infrastructure funding from the level requested in almost every budget .
For the most part, however, defense burden sharing issues have been addressed,
not in MilCon appropriations bills, but in congressional action on the annual
defense authorization and defense appropriations measures .
Environment, historic preservation, oversight, and other issues : In
the past, Congress has encouraged the Defense Department to take a leadership
role in ensuring environmentally sound operating practices, preserving historic
buildings, and protecting important natural habitats on military facilities . The
costs of compliance with legislation such as the Endangered Species Act and
other environmental legislation may also come under review . It remains to be
seen if the 104th Congress continues to support funds in the defense budget for
these purposes .
Finally, MilCon subcommittees exercise oversight over
potentially contentious issues such as land acquisition, land use, and property
disposal at military facilities throughout the world .
The cost of environmental cleanup at closingbases, roughly one-third of the
MilCon appropriation, raises concerns . The House MilCon Appropriations
Report notes that from FY 1990 through 1995, not less than $1
.965 billion was
made available for BRAC environmental costs, and that $2 .330 billion was
allocated by DOD for this purpose . The House placed a cap on future BRAC
environmental allocations, rather than a floor, and noted a concern that cleanup
efforts should be tailored to the proposed re-use of an area, "to assure that costs
are reasonable and affordable ."
As noted above, Senate floor debate on MilCon Appropriations identified
the high cost of environmental restoration in the Base Realignment and Closure
process as a barrier to shifting funds to National Guard and Reserve
construction projects ; funding those projects required additions to the budget
request . The Senate MilCon Appropriations Report states that GAO is to
submit a report by March 1, 1999 reviewing and making recommendations on
the DOD environmental compliance program .
H .R . 1530 addresses a land use issue, directing the Secretary to submit by
May 1, 1996 a report on the feasibility of conveying excess lands at closing
military bases to the States for wildlife management, sporting, and outdoor
recreation purposes .
These would be lands with little value for local
H .R. 1817 provides full, $50 million funding for the DOD Energy
Conservation Investment Program which aims to accomplish a 20% reduction
in building and facility energy requirements by the year 2000 . DOD estimates
that the savings from this program are comparable to the savings in the recent
round of base closures .
The Army Museum : The Army Chief of Staff revised the idea of a
national Army museum in 1983 . The Army reviewed over 60 possible sites for
the facility, and eventually recommended the former Marriott Motel site near
the 14th Street Bridge in northern Virginia . This seven acre location was
favored because it is close to Mall tourist flow, easily accessible to the Pentagon
and Ft . Meyer enabling staff coordination and support from the ceremonial 3rd
Infantry (Old Guard) . Proximity to the Smithsonian Institution, Library of
Congress, and National Archives would facilitate research, proponents noted .
The Army indicated that the facility would serve several purposes : to honor
those who had served in the U .S . Army, educate and inspire soldiers and the
public, protect military art and artifacts, and contribute to military historical
research and scholarship . The museum would also provide office space for the
Center of Military History which now uses leased space in Washington, D . C .
The budget requested $17 million for land acquisition ; funding for
construction of the museum itself is to raised from private sources . Backers
feared that the land would be sold or developed before the money for purchase
could be raised privately, so Congressional appropriation of this amount was
sought . The House Military Construction subcommittee limited its approval to
$14 million .
Opponents of the measure voiced several concerns : there are already a
number (figures ranged from 28 to 48) of Army museums around the country,
the museum could be built on other Army or Federal lands already owned in the
Washington, D .C . area, and improved military housing is a more important use
of the $14 million (although the amendment to eliminate the land acquisition
funds did not redirect the money to military housing, it only reduced the
appropriation level for the MilCon bill) .
e Senate, the requested $17 million funding for museum land
acquisition was deleted from the defense authorization and appropriations bills
as reported from the Committees . Thus, 1995 legislation provides neither
authority nor funding for the Army to acquire the Marriott site for an Army
Major Funding Trends
Funding for military family housing has been fairly stable in recent years,
in large part because totals are driven by annual operating costs which are not
very variable . Funding for military construction has varied more from year to
year, however, especially with the FY1993 freeze on non-essential projects .
Table 1 shows overall military construction funding since FY1993, including
family housing and Figure 1 displays the trend in military construction
funding, excluding family housing, in constant, inflation adjusted prices, since
the peak of the Reagan-era military buildup in FY1985 . Table 2 breaks down
the FY1996 request by appropriations account .
Table 1 : Military Construction Appropriations,
FY1993 to FY1997
(budget authority, current year dollars in millions)
Figure 1 : Military Construction Budget Authority, FY1985-96
(Excluding Family Housing)
Constant FY96$ in Billions
Sources : Department of Defense Comptroller, "National Defense Budget
Estimates for FY1995," March 1994 ; Department of Defense, "Financial
Summary Tables," Feb . 1995 ; deflators from Department of Defense Comptroller .
Table 2 : Military Construction Appropriations by Account
(in thousands of dollars)
on, Army National Guard
ilCon, Air National Guard
MilCon, Army Reserve
4ilCon, Naval Reserve
o Ai Fo e Re e e
Base Realign . Pad Closure
(BRAC) Acct . Part I
BRAC Acct . Part IIIN
Family Housing Operation &
Co t . De 'de
ily Housing Operation &
e t, Def-wide
a ily Housing Improvement
omeo ers Assist . Fund, Def.
Sources : Department of Defense, "Financial Summary Tables," Feb . 1995 . H .R . 1817 as passed by House
on June 21, 1995, as passed by Senate on July 21, 1995, and as agreed to in conference on Sept . 14, 1995 .
TABLE 3 . Congressional Additions to Annual Department of Defense Budget Requests
For National Guard and Reserve Military Construction, FY1985-96
(current year dollars in thousands)
Source : Department of Defense, "Financial Summary Tables," successive years .
For Additional Reading
Defense Budget for F'Y1996 : Major Issues and Congressional Action,
Daggett, CRS Issue Brief 95049, updated regularly .
Defense Burdensharing: Is Japan's Host Nation Support a Model for Other
Allies?, by Stephen Daggett, CRS Report 94-515 F, June 20, 1994 .
Military Construction : Current Controversies and Long-Term Issues,
Cohen and Stephen Daggett, CRS Report 91-669 F, Sep . 3, 1991 .
Natural Resource Issues in National Defense Programs,
Report 91-781 ENR, October 31, 1991 .
by George H. Siehl, CRS