Under the protection of the previously passed continuing resolution that funds the government through December 9th, work towards a final NDAA moves to conference, and the 2018 appropriations process inches forward.
A joint House-Senate conference will begin this week to discuss and finalize details for the 2018 NDAA. All policy issues should be completed by the end of October, according to leading members of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. The Senate bill presently authorizes $640B base and $60B OCO; The House bill presently authorizes $621.5B base and $75 OCO. The final agreed number would be influenced by the outcome of the budget cap debate highlighted below.
The House pushed their version of the FY18 budget resolution through on Thursday, with highlights including major tax reform plans, an overhaul of the Medicare program and an increase in the Pentagon’s base budget.
The Senate approved their resolution on Thursday as well, with a 12-11 vote, and should move to the Senate floor on October 16th.
While a budget agreement does not carry the force of law, reaching agreement signals at least the potential for agreements later in the fall on similarly challenging issues: taxes, immigration, etc.
There has been ongoing chatter about repealing the budget caps set on domestic and defense spending by the 2011 Budget Control Act. HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry has been vocal about his willingness to increase domestic spending if it means an increase in defense spending. President Trump announced last week he stands by his support of a $700 billion defense budget, which exceeds the budget caps by over $100 billion.