Status of the Budget
Congress was very busy in the run up to their August recess. The House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills and marked up the others so they now just need to be brought to the floor for a vote.
As reported in a previous Quick Hit, members of both parties and the White House have come to an agreement on the budget and debt ceiling which will allow for increases in both defense and non-defense spending for FY20 and FY21. President Trump signed the agreement Friday.
While a great deal of progress has been made in the House, the Senate still has much to do. With only 15 legislative days remaining after the recess until the end of the Fiscal Year on September 30th, Senate Appropriations Chairman Shelby has said that markups will begin on September 12th. Due to the compressed September legislative calendar it is likely that short term continuing resolutions will be used until the appropriations bills can make it through the Senate and be negotiated with the House bills.
Defense Funds for the Border
In a win for the White House, the Supreme Court has ruled that funds appropriated for defense can be used for the promised border wall. The ruling was made because the Supreme Court said that those who brought the case did not have the standing to do so. This leaves the door open for other challenges but allows the White House to move forward with their plan of using defense funds for the border wall in the near term.
Confirmations and Hearings
Before the recess, Congress made progress on filling several defense vacancies in the administration. The Senate has confirmed Mark Esper as the Secretary of Defense and David Norquist as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Furthermore, General Mark Milley has been confirmed as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Vice Admiral Michael Gilday has been confirmed to fulfill the position of Chief of Naval Operations.