Administration-House Standoff Stalls All Hill Defense Progress; DOD Appropriations at Risk

Administration-House Standoff Stalls All Hill Defense Progress; DOD Appropriations at Risk

As the administration and House are opposed, it has become more challenging for defense legislation to pass and the chances for a defense appropriations bill are rapidly fading, Breaking Defense reported Monday.

Regular order in Congress had already become challenging with the 2018 midterm results, but the ongoing Washington stalemate has impacted regular business, according to the report.

The administration’s shift of $3.6 billion from MilCon accounts for southern border barrier construction likely curtailed chances for a fiscal 2020 defense spending bill, the report said.

Despite the late summer budget deal that disallowed ‘poison pills’ on appropriations bills, “any compromise at this point would be considered capitulation by either side,” said Bill Greenwalt, a Senate Armed Services Committee staffer, according to the report.

If a bill did pass including restrictions on barrier construction, Greenwalt thinks it would be vetoed, even if at DOD expense

“It is doubtful at this stage there are enough Republicans that can somehow interpret a limitation on wall funding as not a poison pill to have enough votes to override a veto,” Greenwalt said. “I don’t see the numbers for that. The appropriators could punt and let the authorizers handle the issue as there are similar restrictions on the House NDAA,” he added.

Greenwalt expects the nation is more likely to see an ongoing FY 2019 continuing resolution (CR) as currently in effect until Nov. 21, one week before the congressional Thanksgiving recess.

“A stripped down mini-NDAA may be all that could pass this year for defense as well,” Greenwalt said. “Under this scenario, DOD will need to ask for as many anomalies they can get in each upcoming CR.”

He emphasized a limited National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would provide lawmakers authority to restrict programs about which they are concerned, the report said.

“Given the growing threats in the world, this is not a great situation, but it may be the best DOD can get,” Greenwalt said.

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