Despite switching control of the House to the Democrats and strengthening the GOP’s edge in the Senate, this week’s midterm elections may not have substantially changed the prospect that Congress reaches a bipartisan budget deal to lift the statutory spending caps starting in fiscal 2020. Lawmakers can be expected to attempt to strike another deal as national security spending would drop $71 billion below current year funding, $716 billion, under the Budget Control Act cap for FY 2020. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who is poised to lead the House Armed Services Committee in the 116th Congress, has said in recent months that current defense spending is too high. And in the last few weeks, Trump administration officials have said the president plans to propose a $700 billion national security budget for FY 2020, representing a 2.2 percent cut from current year spending. It’s not clear what topline Senate leaders have in mind.
“So we can’t be sure where we will end up for any of that,” John Conger, director of the Center for Climate and Security, told On Base. “It’s too early [to tell],” said Conger, who oversaw installations and energy at the Pentagon from 2009 to 2015.
Several analysts believe a budget deal is the most likely outcome, reported Defense News. Defense spending won’t experience the growth it has over the past two budget cycles, nor will it decline substantially next year, projected Roman Schweizer, an analyst with Cowen. “Democrats will want to spend more, GOP defense hawks will want to spend more and fiscal conservatives will be in a deep minority,” he said.