Last week’s two-year budget agreement will provide a huge windfall for the Pentagon with the department’s base budget jumping by $165 billion through September 2019 over the statutory budget caps. But before defense officials can start spending the extra funds, lawmakers will need to rewrite the 12 fiscal 2018 appropriations bills and clear an omnibus spending package. The continuing resolution (CR) approved by the House and Senate in the early morning hours of Friday, and signed into law by President Trump, gives Congress until March 23 to complete the task.
Of course, the funding largesse means negotiations over the spending bills should be less contentious than usual, with many winners and few losers, reports CQ. The $700 billion now slated for national defense this year exceeds not only the president’s FY 2018 request but funding levels in both chambers’ spending bills as well.
In FY 2018, the statutory cap on defense spending will rise by $80 billion, resetting the cap at $629 billion. After adding in $71 billion for the department’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which is exempt from the budget caps, total defense spending will reach $700 billion. Next year, the cap will increase by $85 billion to $647 billion; with $69 billion for OCO, total defense spending would be $716 billion in FY 2019.
Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña