Key Defense Lawmaker Predicts Budget Stalemate

The House’s top Democrat on defense said he is “very optimistic” Congress will pass a national defense authorization bill this year, but admits that the election-year reduced congressional calendar and major disputes over how to fund defense likely will prevent approval of the appropriations bills before the Oct. 1 deadline. That will mean a restrictive continuing resolution to fund the government early in the fiscal year and possibly an “omnibus” funding bill to cover the rest of the year, approved after the Nov. 8 national elections, Rep.? Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday. Smith was most critical of the House-passed defense authorization and appropriations bills, which would take money from the overseas contingency operations account to pay for programs supposedly covered by the base defense budget. That would require a supplemental money bill next April to continue support for the overseas conflicts, Smith said during a Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C. Smith said the House bills also would prevent the Pentagon’s proposed personnel reductions, maintaining troops that cannot be supported in the future. Although he supports defense acquisition reforms, Smith said the Senate’s plan to eliminate Frank Kendall’s acquisition office “doesn’t make sense.”