Congressional leaders are moving quickly to gather support and lift confidence for passage of the comprehensive two-year budget agreement the White House and Capitol Hill reached Monday afternoon, Politico reported Tuesday.
The House, which is scheduled to adjourn Friday for the August congressional recess, has been working to schedule its vote before the end of the week. The Senate would likely follow with a vote next week, according CQ reporting.
Under the agreement, defense spending would be set at $738 billion for fiscal 2020, which is more than the $733 billion the Democrat-led House passed in its fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
The proposed amount would be about $12 billion less than the $750 billion the administration proposed in its fiscal 2020 budget request and what the Senate passed in its annual NDAA bill.
Fiscal 2020 defense spending under the deal would include $666.5 billion base funding plus $71.5 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO). The topline for fiscal 2021 would be $740.5 billion, including $671.5 billion in base funding plus $69 billion in OCO funding, according to Politico.
Fiscal conservatives and defense hawks have criticized the deal, but top congressional Republicans acknowledged the two-year defense increase is an improvement over past budget levels, according to Military Times.
“While I believe that our military needs more funding than this agreement provides, it undoubtedly makes our military stronger and more agile,” wrote House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) in a statement.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) echoed moderate support for the deal.
“While I am disappointed that the topline total for defense funding is not $750 billion — the amount recommended by the nonpartisan National Defense Strategy Commission report, requested in President Trump’s budget and authorized with a bipartisan Senate vote — I am relieved to see a defense topline that exceeds what the House Democrats wanted to provide,” he wrote in a statement.
The agreement overall amounts to a significant boost for the Pentagon, according to Government Executive. With spending caps lifted that would have remained without a deal, defense spending will increase $20 billion more than nondefense spending, according to the report. The mandatory caps, which went into effect in 2013 as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, will no longer apply going forward.
Army photos by Staff Sgt. Austin L. Thomas