(November 28, 2017) Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, ignored spending caps last week when his panel recommended a defense budget for fiscal 2018 of $650.7 billion. The draft bill includes $581.3 billion in base spending and $64.9 billion in overseas contingency operations funding. It also includes $4.5 billion in missile defense funding, which was requested by President Donald Trump, according to Defense News.
The proposal exceeds federal spending caps by about $70 billion.
Cochran said the proposal provides funding necessary for national security, but Democrats immediately noted that it exceeds the federal budget caps and, if approved and signed into law, would prompt an automatic 13 percent cut required by the 2011 Budget Control Act, known as sequestration.
Also, Democrats largely believe that any increase in defense spending must be balanced by an equal increase in nondefense spending, which includes homeland security and law enforcement.
The government is operating now under a continuing resolution that ends Dec. 8. Although a budget deal is preferred, Congress will likely pass another CR. Some lawmakers want one that will end before Christmas, but others think it should reach into the new year.
Cochran’s proposal, which has not been introduced, does include a couple niceties for the National Guard. It funds eight UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Army Guard, and $1.5 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, with most of the money allocated for the Guard.
It also includes a 2.4 percent pay raise.
The House, by the way, passed its appropriations bill in July with $658.1 billion going to defense. A NGAUS analysis of that bill can be found under the Issues & Advocacy tab on www.ngaus.org.