By Matt Vallone, Director of Research & Analysis
Main Story: President Trump’s First Week in Office
On Friday at noon, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. This week and the next are likely to be dominated by Trump’s first moves as President and the confirmation of his cabinet. He has already signed a series of executive orders halting the implementation of new regulations, directing agencies and departments to take steps to ease burdens posed by the Affordable Care Act, and withdrawing the United States from the TPP. The Senate has begun confirming Trump’s cabinet, as both General James Mattis (Ret.) and General John Kelly (Ret.) were sworn in as Secretary of Defense and as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, respectively. Today, Rep. Mike Pompeo is likely to be confirmed as Director of the CIA following several hours of debate over his positions on issues regarding surveillance. The Senate will continue to work through nominations for the bulk of this week. The House has a much shorter week and will adjourn on Wednesday. The only controversial bill scheduled for the House’s consideration is legislation extending the ban of federal funding paying for abortions to health benefits that cover abortion.
Additionally, important markers are being laid out for legislative fights to come. Late last week, reports began to emerge regarding the first Trump administration budget request. While this article focuses on potential cuts to domestic non-defense spending, of interest to defense and aerospace budget watchers is the timing of the budget and its source. The proposed FY 2018 budget appears to be very similar to the Republican Study Committee’s proposed FY 2015 budget. In addition to proposing major reductions in government spending, it contained significant increases in defense spending (though it was still below the FY 2012 goal set by Trump in the fall). Beyond laying out some potential guidelines on spending, the most significant part of the article dealt with timing. It appears that the goal is to release a ‘skinny budget’ laying out main priorities and topline summary tables within 45 days of the inauguration (early March), with the full budget release to take place in mid-to-late April. As always, these are aspirational goals at this point, but worth noting, as they would set the budget release up to potentially coincide with passage of funding legislation for the remainder of FY 2017.
Outside of the realm of defense, but relevant to one of the biggest questions of the year, two Republican Senators have introduced legislation that presents an alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Details are available here, but the legislation looks to repeal significant parts of ACA, while maintaining funding streams to support a state-based alternative. Given the narrow margins in the Senate, these sorts of clear markers will undoubtedly inform any eventual legislation.
House Activity – The House is in session from Monday to Wednesday and will deal with a handful of suspension bills, as well as one rule bill relating to federal funding of abortions and the health benefit plans that pay for them.
Senate Activity – The Senate will be busy with confirmation votes both on the floor and in committee. Tonight the Senate is likely to confirm Rep. Pompeo as CIA director after extended floor debate demanded by Senate Democrats. Additional floor votes on nominees will largely depend on committee votes, which are scheduled to begin early this week on the rest of Trump’s cabinet. While most votes will draw Democratic opposition, there so far appear to be no nominees in real danger of being denied confirmation.
- SASC – 1/24 Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2018 and Onwards, Full Committee Hearing, Hart 216, 930am
- HASC – No hearing scheduled
- HAC-D – No hearing scheduled
- SAC-D – No hearing scheduled
Government Activity Round-Up
Some interesting reports from GAO, but nothing new from the CBO. First up a report outlining the need to address the Federal Government’s Fiscal Future, noting that “absent policy changes, the structural gap between revenues and spending puts the federal government on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.” This situation isn’t new, but the updated information is still worth reviewing. Second, a report looking at OCO and what types of activities belong in OCO funding. Given that this definition has been stretched repeatedly over the past few years, this is worth reading as we consider a higher baseline under the new administration. Lastly, as DoD preps to request yet another BRAC round from Congress, GAO looks at improvements in environmental cleanup reporting and costs from the last BRAC round.
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