Congress reached a two-year budget agreement on Monday morning that will provide some much-needed stability to the US military. The agreement comes as the Defense Department prepares to roll out its Fiscal 2019 budget request. Air Force photo by Alan R. Quevy.
The Defense Department on Monday will roll out its Fiscal 2019 budget request, even though it’s still waiting on Congress to approve Fiscal 2018 funds. The move comes just one business day after an hours-long government shutdown—the second one within two weeks—and enactment of a fifth continuing resolution, which funds the government through March 23.
However, the latest CR, which President Trump signed Friday morning, is attached to a two-year budget agreement that includes increases in defense spending in both fiscal years and will provide some much-needed stability for military planners.
The chairmen of the House and Senate defense committees issued statements Friday lauding the move, with both saying it is a step toward restoring the military.
“Now the Defense Department will have the budget certainty it needs to begin the process of rebuilding the military, restoring readiness, and modernizing our forces—all of which are required to maintain America’s military edge over our adversaries in the era of renewed great power competition outlined in the new National Defense Strategy,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said.
The deal, according to a Bloomberg summary citing a senior House staffer, increases defense spending caps from $549 billion to $629 billion in Fiscal 2018, and increases the overseas contingency operations fund, which is not subject to budget caps, by $71 billion. For Fiscal 2019, the cap on defense spending will increase from $562 billion to $647 billion, and OCO funds are set at $69 billion.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said the measure “begins to rebuild and restore America’s military” and passed “because members of both parties made our security and our service members a priority.”
“Now we must make sure that Congress fulfills this promise to our military, that the Pentagon spends this money wisely, and that the era of using troops as leverage for political gain has ended,” he said.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the senior Democrat on Armed Services, lauded the defense provisions in the agreement, although he was critical of Trump and the new Republican tax policy, which he says have “thwarted commonsense efforts to adequately meet our country’s domestic and defense needs.”
The budget framework, “isn’t perfect, but it is a pragmatic step toward breaking the cycle of short-term budgeting and offers an opportunity to provide some much needed certainty and stability,” said Reed. “I am pleased this bill lays the groundwork to fund strategic priorities in the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Sen. McCain and I authored. It will enhance military readiness and help us meet evolving national security challenges now and in the future.”
AFA President Larry Spencer also praised the agreement.
“As the former Air Force budget leader, it is critical to our warfighters and to our nation that the US Air Force has stable and predictable funding to plan programs and operations,” said Spencer. “We applaud Congress’ decision to defer sequestration while providing increased funding for the next two years.”
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The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, released by the committee late Thursday, would provide for $715.9 billion in spending, according to a summary produced by the committee.
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