Analysis: Trump Defense Hike Unlikely Soon

Washington Report

(August 15, 2017) The $54 billion hike in defense spending for fiscal 2018 in the president’s budget request will probably fall victim to budget caps and a partisan divide in Congress, according to an analysis by Katherine Blakeley, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

President Donald Trump wants $603 billion for defense, according to his request released in May.

But that exceeds the $549 billion cap set in 2011 by the Budget Control Act, points out The Washington Examiner in an article about Blakeley’s analysis. Raising the caps, known as sequestration, requires congressional approval.

The House has approved a $621.5 billion base defense budget in the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved $632 billion for the base defense budget.

Blakeley said, “The most pressing question about the FY 2018 defense budget is whether Congress will be able to raise or remove the statutory caps that limit national defense spending.”

The caps have been set aside in the past, but not for such large amounts. And Trump has angered Democrats by insisting that the $54 billion hike be funded by offsets in nondefense programs.

Blakeley wrote that the challenges “make it difficult to see how a substantial defense buildup can be realized.”

Time is running out. Congress would have to pass a budget by the end of next month to be on time, something it hasn’t done in years. A continuing resolution is the most likely outcome while the budget debate continues deep into autumn.