By Matt Vallone, Director of Research & Analysis
Main Story: As Expected, Budget Day Comes and Goes with No Budget
In the current budget process, the President is supposed to release his budget for the next fiscal year by the first Monday in February, which is today. However, in transition years this rarely happens and this year is no exception. Reports currently indicate that the earliest a full budget may be released is mid-to-late April. Historically, that would be late even in a transition year, but hardly unprecedented, particularly given that FY 2017 appropriations remain outstanding. We at Avascent recognize that this late budget release date can pose problems for planning purposes. We have put together a comprehensive projection at the program level of what we believe the defense budget will be for FY 2018 and beyond.
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On the Hill, after several raucous, rancorous weeks, things may settle down for a bit in Congress as the House has a short week to accommodate this year’s Democratic strategy retreat. The House will move forward on overturning more rules from the Obama administration while the Senate attempts to confirm Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions. DeVos might be the only cabinet nominee in actual danger, as two Republican Senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska) have both come out against the nominee. However, absent an additional defection DeVos may be confirmed 51-50 with Vice-President Mike Pence breaking a tie. Sessions should be confirmed with all Republican votes, though it is unclear if he will draw any Democratic support. Lastly, Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin may be confirmed this week as well.
House Activity – The House will spend two days passing suspension bills and legislation overturning a handful of Obama-administration adopted rules. After that it will adjourn for this year’s Democratic retreat.
Senate Activity – On Monday, the Senate will vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Once that is resolved, consideration of other nominees, most likely Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions or Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, will begin. It is unclear if both of those nominees will receive votes on the floor this week.
- 2/7 Current Readiness of U.S. Forces, Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Russell SRS-232, 230pm
- 2/7 CLOSED HEARING: Cyber Threats, Full Committee, SVC-217 CVC, 930am
- 2/9 Situation in Afghanistan, Full Committee, G50 Dirksen, 930am
- HASC – 2/7 The State of the Military, Full Committee, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
- HAC-D – No hearing scheduled
- SAC-D – No hearing scheduled
Government Activity Round-Up
Nothing new this week from CBO, so we’ll just repost their update on ‘The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027’. A number of interesting reports from GAO this week. First, DoD needs to improve its notification processes for informing Congress of privately financed construction projects. It seems as though DoD has frequently failed to report private construction activity that goes towards commissaries and similar structures, specifically gifts of construction and privately funded activities. More at the link. Second, GAO evaluated the workload being done at depots throughout the services as part of the FY 2016 NDAA. This survey revealed service-specific shifts in activity since FY 2013 in response to reduced budgets. Nothing controversial, but interesting material. Lastly, GAO looked at the USAF and Army’s approach to human capital planning for UAS pilots. Both services came up short in having adequate plans to train and sustain an adequate number of UAS pilots.
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