Senate panel approves $700 billion defense bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  —  The Senate Armed Services Committee has unanimously approved a defense policy bill that provides $700 billion for the military services in the 2018 fiscal year.

The plan seeks to reverse what the committee describes as a “crisis” in modernizing the armed forces with advanced weapons and support equipment.

The panel calls the defense budget that President Donald Trump sent to Congress last month a “step in the right direction,” but “insufficient to undo the damage of the last six years.” Trump made rebuilding the military services a signature promise during the presidential campaign.

The committee authorizes $10.6 billion for 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, two dozen more than Trump requested.

The troops would get a 2.1 percent pay raise under the Senate plan, which is less than the House Armed Services Committee approved. Those and other differences will have to be resolved.