Political Report 10/30/2019

 In Political Report

Main Story: Defense Funding Likely to Slip into 2020

As the appropriations process moves along in fits and starts, it is increasingly likely that a second continuing resolution (CR) will be required. Recent reporting indicates that Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, believes a CR will be enacted until March or April. At that point, with primary voting for the 2020 presidential election well under way, it will be anyone’s guess if appropriations will be passed. The possibility of a full-year CR or another shut down cannot be ruled out.

While this summer’s deal had laid the groundwork for passing appropriations, Congress became ensnared in utterly predictable fights over policy provisions regarding construction of a wall along the southern border as well as abortion. That Congress was unable to come to an agreement to pass appropriations prior to the start of the fiscal year is neither new nor surprising.

Based on historical trends going back almost 25 years, the real surprise was last year’s passage of defense appropriations prior to the start of the fiscal year. The last time that was done was in FY2009 (calendar year 2008). Prior to that, Department of Defense appropriations seemed to pass into law with some regularity, before the start of the new fiscal year, as in FY2007, FY2005, FY2001, and FY1997. Even when there were delays, they were relatively short – with only two delays of more than 100 days prior to FY2011. The chart below shows the delay in DoD appropriations (blue) and for all other appropriations (orange) in terms of number of days into the fiscal year it took for this legislation to be signed into law.

As the Congressional caucuses have grown more polarized, defense appropriations and non-defense appropriations have been more strongly linked. Last year, DoD was able to avoid being dragged into the dispute over funding for the border wall. But this year the DoD has become entangled in the dispute after the Trump administration decided to declare a national emergency and use funding from Military Construction accounts to fund the wall.

House Activity

The House will pass a variety of legislation coming out of the Natural Resources Committee.

Senate Activity

The Senate will finally pass a four-bill minibus of non-defense appropriations bills that carried over from last week.

Congressional Defense Activity

  •  HFAC
    • 10/29 “The FY20 Budget: Examining the Administration’s Policy Objectives for a Turbulent Middle East,” Subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism Hearing, 2172 Rayburn, 2pm
  • SFRC
    • 10/29 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 230pm
    • 10/30 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 10am
    • 10/31 “Nominations,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-419 Dirksen, 10am
  • SASC
    • 10/29 “Nominations – Hershman – Deasy – Sanders,” Full Committee Hearing, SD-G50 Dirksen, 930am
    • 10/30 “CLOSED: Department of Defense Cyber Operations,” Subcommittee on Cybersecurity Hearing, SVC-217 Capitol Visitor Center, 230pm
  •  HASC
    • 10/29 “Future of Defense Task Force Hearing: Theories of Victory,” Full Committee Hearing, 2118 Rayburn, 10am
  •  SAC-D
    • No hearings this week
  •  HAC-D
    • No hearings this week
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