WASHINGTON — The House and Senate Appropriations Committees early on March 21 unveiled a long-awaited fiscal year 2024 compromise spending package for government agencies, including $825 billion for the Defense Department. 

The House and Senate are expected to vote on the measure March 22 to avert a partial government shutdown. The compromise bill was delivered almost halfway through the 2024 fiscal year that began in October.

The $825 billion defense spending bill is less than the $842 billion the Biden administration requested. The U.S. Space Force is getting approximately $29 billion — or about $1 billion less than the $30 billion request. 

Appropriators reduced the Space Force’s procurement request from $4.6 billion to $4 billion, and the RDT&E account (for research, development, testing and engineering) from $19 billion to $18.6 billion.

However, compared to the enacted fiscal year 2023 budget that Congress passed in December 2022 — appropriating $26.3 billion for the Space Force — the fiscal year 2024 appropriation represents a roughly $2.7 billion increase.

The 2024 funding for the Space Force reflects recommendations made by the Senate Appropriations Committee in its markup of the defense bill last summer.

While compromise 2024 bill was less than DoD requests, it boosts some space launch accounts:

  • It cuts $45 million from the $2 billion budget for National Security Space Launch services but adds $80 million to the NSSL research and development account. 
  • It increases funding for the Tactically Responsive Space program from $30 million to $50 million. 

A big winner in the 2024 defense bill is the Defense Innovation Unit, an organization established in 2015 in Silicon Valley to serve as a bridge between the Department of Defense and the commercial tech sector. 

DIU gets an increase of $842 million in the 2024 budget. The agency identifies promising technologies with potential military applications and streamlines the often-bureaucratic acquisition process. Several DIU projects have focused on space technologies including space launch, on-orbit services and satellite communications

Appropriators said the additional funding is justified given the importance of DIU in bringing innovation into the Defense Department. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...