One clear consequence of the Democrats regaining control of the House next year will be a contentious battle between the two chambers over the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill. On Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) outlined his priorities for the measure, signaling disagreement over the size of the defense budget and other policy issues with Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who is expected to lead the House Armed Services Committee during the 116th Congress. Inhofe took aim at Smith’s call for a smaller nuclear arsenal and, instead, pointed to the nation’s nuclear triad as “the most important area of modernization,” reported Defense News.
Inhofe also said he is aiming to use the annual defense policy bill to develop a bigger, stronger military. He wants to speed up the acquisition of Navy ships to help meet the service’s goal of building a 355-ship fleet by 2040, triple the size of the military’s F-35 fighter jet fleet by 2024 and accelerate DOD’s plans for fielding the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber to complete five squadrons. For the Navy, he said would like to authorize procurement of an additional destroyer, increase production rates for the Navy’s new frigate class of ships and shorten the amount of time needed to deliver aircraft carriers, reported CQ.
With President Trump expected to propose a cut in defense spending from $716 billion in FY 2019 to $700 billion in FY 2020, Inhofe likely will face an uphill battle to reach a $733 billion topline next year. That’s the figure the Pentagon had been planning to request before the president changed course.
Inhofe wants his committee to complete work on the authorization bill by late spring, with a conference report sent to the president by early October. He wants the committee to report out the bill early enough to set topline spending ahead of appropriators, who may not be considering a $733 billion budget for national security.
Navy photo by Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Aaron Lyons