Political Report: 2/13/2018

 In Weekly Wire

Main Story: Budget Deal and Budget Drop

Days after a bipartisan budget deal was reached to fund Washington for another two years, the White House released the FY 2019 budget request on Monday.

The far-reaching budget deal signed last Friday lifts limits on defense spending by $165 billion over the next two years. Caps on non-defense discretionary spending were also lifted. The deal is considered a win for defense hawks at the expense of fiscal conservatives. Senator Rand Paul led a brief shutdown on Friday morning in opposition to the bill’s impact on the deficit and federal debt.

FY19 Federal and DoD Budget Presentation Cover ImagePresident Trump’s budget request includes $686.1 billion in military funding, with a $617 billion base budget and $69 billion in OCO funding.  Avascent has put together an introductory set of slides showing the likely trends in funding for FY2017, FY2018 and FY2019 under the new budget deal that you will find attached to this email. Overall, defense accounts will see significant increases from FY2017, but it is unclear if this rate of growth is sustainable. The President’s budget request only sees inflation growth for the Department of Defense from FY2020 to FY2023. For more details, please see the following deck: https://www.avascent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/FY19_Federal_n_DoD_Budget_02132018.pdf

House Activity

The House will mostly be working on suspension bills on Tuesday. Two bills from the Financial Services Committee are scheduled for a vote on Wednesday. The House will vote on the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 on Thursday.

Senate Activity

Immigration is back on the agenda in the Senate. The Broader Options for Americans Act, an effort to amend the IRS Code, will be considered early in the week as a vehicle for immigration reform. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to allow an open process, making it uncertain if anything will emerge from consideration.

Congressional Defense Activity

  • SASC
    • 2/13, ‘Department of Defense’s role in Protecting Democratic Elections,’ SR-222 Russell, 2:30pm
    • 2/14, ‘Current Readiness of U.S. Forces,’ Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, SR-222 Russell, 2:30pm
    • 2/14, ‘Military and Civilian Personnel Programs and Military Family Readiness,’ SR-232A Russell, 3:00pm
    • 2/15, ‘United States Northern Command and United States Southern Command,’ SD-G50 Dirksen, 9:30am
  • HASC
    • 2/14, ‘The Military and Security Challenges and Posture in the Indo-Pacific Region,’ 2118 Rayburn, 10:00am
    • 2/14, ‘Air Force Readiness Posture,’ Subcommittee on Readiness, 2212 Rayburn, 3:330pm
    • 2/15, ‘Strategic Competition with China,’ 2118 Rayburn, 10:00am
    • 2/15, ‘Evolution, Transformation, and Sustainment: A Review and Assessment of the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for U.S. Special Operations Forces and Command,’ Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, 2212 Rayburn, 2:00pm
  • HAC-D – No scheduled hearings
  • SAC-D – No scheduled hearings

GAO & CBO Round-up

A new GAO report, ‘Department of Energy: Continued Actions Needed to Modernize Nuclear Infrastructure and Address Management Challenges,’ challenges existing cost estimates of modernizing U.S. nuclear forces. It argues that the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nuclear modernization plans do not align with its budget. Beyond recapitalization costs, GAO claims that DOE and NNSA underestimate environmental cleanup liability, and have not resolved management issues.

GAO released another report, ‘Military Personnel: Actions Needed to Better Position the Navy and the Marine Corps to Support Expanding Unmanned Systems Operations.’ Given growing UAS inventories in both services, GAO looked at whether alternate staffing strategies could rein in personnel costs. The report recommends that the Navy and Marine Corps identify circumstances in which federal civilian employees and private sector contractors may serve in operational UAS roles. It also encourages Naval Air Systems Command to update the lifecycle costs for the RQ-21 Blackjack UAS.

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