Quick Hit – February 17, 2020

Quick Hit – What Just Happened?

USS America (LHA-6)

You might have seen a minor blip in the news late last week as Members of Congress were departing on a one-week “district work week.” The President has asked to move $3.8B of FY20 funds from Defense to the border wall – again.  The President’s ask came in the form of an Above Threshold Reprogramming (ATR) request to Congress, signed by the OSD Comptroller February 13th.  It details several large programs which will pay for this movement of funds:

    • Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities
    • Army wheeled vehicles
    • Joint Strike Fighter
    • V-22 VSTAL
    • P-8A
    • Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) ship
    • LHA Replacement
    • C-130J
    • MQ-9

Remember the FY20 Defense Appropriation was just signed out before Christmas. The response from Congress has been predictably against the idea, but notably muted. Typically, an ATR requires sign-off by each of the four defense committees. That sign-off is not a big deal this time.  Why?

USNS Carson City (T-EPF-7)

Buried in the final agreement of the FY20 appropriation was agreement to allow POTUS to move funds in this manner. At the time, the agreement was thought to be a compromise on the previous attempt to move Defense funds to fund the border wall. It was, but the language was elastic enough to allow multiple bites at this apple. Congress did not see this coming.

What it Means

Look for FY21 bill marks to claw back some of these transferred funds from other underperforming programs. Additionally, look for Congress to attempt to tighten down, if not lock, the Executive branch from moving funds among accounts.

What’s Gene Up To?

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