By Matt Vallone, Director of Research and Analysis
Main Story: Budget Process Off to Rough Start
Since the release of the President’s Budget Request, a theme of this report has been that the appropriations process would be painstaking even by recent standards. The first step in the formal appropriations process entails both chambers passing and agreeing on a budget. As predicted, House Democrats have been unable to move forward on legislation, the first misstep in what promises to be a particularly contentious process. The longer it takes for these initial steps to get going, the more likely it is that full appropriations will not be decided until the end of the year or even early 2020.
On Tuesday, April 9th, House Democrats displayed the problems facing the NDAA this year. Democrats on the House Budget Committee, after failing to come to agreement on a budget last week, passed a simple resolution setting forth proposed appropriations caps, establishing the Democratic position for this year’s budget debate. However, House progressives revolted against the proposal, causing leadership to pull the legislation. While a parliamentary tactic was used to allow the appropriations process to go forward regardless of the bill’s fate, it still highlights the obstacle of successfully signing the NDAA into law.
The legislative math that doomed the budget resolution will bedevil the NDAA. House Republicans are unlikely to support the NDAA at a funding level lower than proposed in the President’s Budget Request, meaning that House Democrats will need to whip all of the votes for passage. House progressives wouldn’t vote for a budget resolution without significant increases in non-defense spending, making it highly unlikely that they would vote for the NDAA as a stand-alone bill. Cutting the topline level might be an option to appeal to progressives, but that would mean losing moderate and conservative members. Fundamentally, it is likely that a bipartisan coalition will be required to pass it which would only form once a budget agreement is finalized.
In the Senate, the Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi has laid out the likely position of Senate Republicans in the budget debate. His proposal slashes discretionary non-defense spending by $85 billion, as well as calling for total deficit reduction of $538 billion over the next five years. While this legislation would increase defense spending in the near-term, it would eventually be below the levels laid out in the President’s request. If the past is precedent, Senate Republicans will be limited in their involvement in negotiations by the need to ensure the White House is supportive of any budget deal.
As the above clearly demonstrates, this year’s authorization and appropriations process is off to a rough start.
House Activity – The House failed to pass legislation that would have set spending caps for FY2020 appropriations but was able to pass legislation that would restore ‘net neutrality’.
Senate Activity – The Senate has given up its attempt to negotiate a resolution on disaster aid and will focus on confirming presidential nominations.
- 4/9 ‘FY20 Priorities: Atomic Energy Defense, Nonproliferation, Safety & Environmental Management’, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 230pm
- 4/9 ‘Evolution, Transformation and Sustainment: Review of the FY20 Budget Request for U.S. SOCOM’, Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Hearing, 2212 Rayburn, 2pm
- 4/10 ‘The FY20 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for the Department of the Navy’, Full Committee Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
- 4/9 ‘Posture of the Department of the Navy’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
- 4/9 ‘CLOSED: United States Special Operations Command’s Efforts to Transform the Force for Future Security Challenges and Implement the National Defense Strategy’, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities Hearing, SVC-217 Capitol, 230pm
- 4/9 ‘Air Force Modernization’, Subcommittee on Airland Hearing, SR-232A Russell, 3pm
- 4/10 ‘Marine Corps Ground Modernization and Naval Aviation Programs’, Subcommittee on Seapower Hearing, SR-232A Russell, 10am
- 4/10 ‘CLOSED: Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Policy’, Subcommittee on Cybersecurity Hearing, SVC-217 Capitol, 230pm
- 4/11 ‘Proposal to Establish a United States Space Force’, Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
- 4/10 ‘Member Day Hearing’, H-140 Capitol, 9am
- 4/10 ‘Review of the FY2020 Budget Request for the National Guard and Reserve’, 138 Dirksen, 10am
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