Senators: Defense Bill More Likely Post-shutdown

Washington Report

(January 23, 2018) Senators are saying the short-lived shutdown of the federal government improves chances for a defense-spending bill before the latest continuing resolution ends Feb. 8.

Several Democrats and Republicans told The Washington Examiner that a deal to raise the spending caps and fund the military was boosted by the deal Monday to end the shutdown.

“We’re a step closer,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., also a committee member, said, “We are talking in a bipartisan way, in a very constructive fruitful way.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a former Illinois National Guard member who lost both legs while serving in Iraq, said, “I think we’ve got a good chance and if we can just encourage this massive movement of moderates coming together, we’ve got a shot.”

Because of spending caps, the base budget for the Pentagon is set at $549 billion, far below what President Donald Trump has asked for and what was approved by Congress last month in the National Defense Authorization Act. The caps must be raised before spending legislation is passed or funding levels would be automatically reduced by the process known as sequestration.

Republicans have been willing to bust the caps on defense, but not nondefense spending. Democrats have said they only would approve funding hikes that include the nondefense portions of the budget, as well.

Of course, the problem rests with the inability of Congress to pass a budget before a fiscal year ends at the close of September. That’s why the government is operating under the fourth continuing resolution of fiscal 2018.

In a statement released Monday as Senators were voting on the continuing resolution, NGAUS laid out one solution for the delayed budgets. Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the NGAUS chairman, and retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the association president, said “If Congress won’t do this on an annual basis, it should move to a two-year defense-budget cycle. Our ability to protect lives and property at home and defend our nation’s interests abroad in the years ahead may depend on it.”

The entire statement is at www.ngaus.org/newsroom/news/ngaus-shutdown-hits-guard-unique-ways.