Quick Hit – August 26, 2018

by Gene Moran in Quick Hits

Appropriations Update: FY19 Defense Appropriations takes another step forward on an uncommonly fast path to completion as the Senate passes minibus appropriations package

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, delivering remarks on the Senate floor regarding the consideration of H.R. 6157

FY19 Defense Appropriations

This past Thursday, August 23rd, the Senate passed the FY19 minibus appropriations package to set spending priorities for military, labor, health, and education programs by an overwhelming majority of 85-7. The $857 billion minibus package, H.R. 6157, sets aside $675 billion for defense spending for FY19: $607 billion for base defense funding and $67.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Since lawmakers have until Sept. 30 to pass new appropriations for federal agencies, appropriations movement on Capitol Hill has largely been driven by the desire to finalize funding by the start of the new fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown or short-term budget extension for the Pentagon. Given the difficult political environment of the day, another significant legislative win before the November elections would be welcome news. President Trump already signed the FY19 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) August 13th, named at the time for the late Senator we lost this weekend. The NDAA only accounts for the policy aspect of defense spending while the defense appropriations bill actually spends funding.

The speed in which appropriations has been moving this year is historic: If passed and signed into law by President Donald Trump by Oct. 1, it would be the first time since 2006 a defense spending bill has been enacted by the start of a new fiscal year.

Notables and Amendments

  • Defense Spending Increase: $16 billion increase from FY18 (the largest increase in 15 years)
  • Military Pay: Increase of 2.6% (the largest in nine years)
  • Cyber: $4 million for the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (established in the FY19 NDAA)
  • Readiness: $237 billion for readiness issues
  • Shipbuilding: $24 billion for 13 new ships, including two Virginia-class submarines, three DDG-51 destroyers and two Littoral Combat ships
  • Senate Amendment 3910 (Shelby/Durbin): Allows for multi-year procurement contracting for SSN Virginia-class submarines
  • Aviation: $42 billion for 12 F-35 aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps, $720 million for new AH-64E Apache helicopters and $240 million for three new V-22 Osprey aircraft

The Bottom Line: The desire to avoid a shutdown, coupled with the need for a legislative win before the November election recess, has allowed for the appropriations process to progress at a historically fast pace. Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has led his Senate peers with a deft hand in moving the process so efficiently. Next steps will be for the House and Senate to conference their respective bills, hammering out differences before voting to send the final bill to the President.

Varsity Player’s Footnote: The desire to avoid a shutdown, coupled with the need for a legislative win before the November election recess, has allowed for the appropriations process to progress at a historically fast pace. Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has led his Senate peers with a deft hand in moving the process so efficiently. Next steps will be for the House and Senate to conference their respective bills, hammering out differences before voting to send the final bill to the President.

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