Nov 11, 2019 - 12:15pm

Quick Take: Your Primer on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020

Fill me in:

The U.S. is currently operating under a continuing resolution authority that will keep the government open until midnight on November 21, 2019 – meaning defense funding will run out on that date. A continuing resolution is a stop gap measure that ensures the government remains open until the regular appropriations acts are enacted. As Congress considers additional stop gap funding measures, there is the possibility of a year-long continuing resolution.

The bi-partisan budget deal approved over $730 billion for defense spending this fiscal year. Defense spending supports military personnel, sustainment of existing military capability, and development of and production of new military capabilities from aircrafts to helicopters. These funds support deployments around the globe as well as U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) research that is needed to address future military capability and to ensure we can deter and, if necessary, defeat our advisories. 

However, continuing resolutions, as passed, do not allow the government to expend funds for new projects or activity not authorized and funded in the prior year (2019).  For defense and national security matters, the inability to start new acquisition programs and the inability to increase the acquisition quantity of military capability currently under contract, undermines our ability to ensure our forces have the capability needed.

Why does it matter?

A year-long stop gap measure will cap defense funding at 2019 levels through the end of fiscal year 2020 while preventing the launch of new defense programs and production increases for existing programs.  A year-long stop gap measure undermines the industrial base, increases costs for the DoD, and adversely impacts the readiness and confidence of U.S. forces at a time of increasing security risks globally. 

Number to know:

Up to $49 billion is at risk with a continuing resolution. That number represents significant purchasing power for additional fighter aircrafts (F35s), ground systems, munitions, and added research & development investment, among other things. This would result in delayed research critically needed to outpace our enemies in the areas of energy, space, undersea systems, autonomy, quantum computing, and more.

Our take:

The U.S. Chamber supports the bipartisan budget deal, full-year defense funding consistent with that deal, and does not support temporary spending measures for defense and national security. The bipartisan deal provided increased and generous funding to the DoD through 2021. The authorized funding levels were consistent with what the Trump administration and its military leadership team sought and was achieved with welcomed bipartisan support. 

The U.S. Chamber recognizes the importance of national security in ensuring an environment that fosters free trade and innovation, thus we strongly seek Congressional attention to the matter of appropriated funds for the DoD, which will then allow the administration and its industrial partners to fulfill the objectives agreed to in the bipartisan budget deal as it relates to our national security. 

What’s next?

Our current continuing resolution expires November 21 – meaning a yearlong spending bill must be passed by then. Currently, the most likely outcome, is another continuing resolution through the end of 2019. However, there is an impasse on Capitol Hill with the Defense Appropriations Bill. The House is insisting on language in the bill that would prohibit the use of defense appropriated funds to be expended in building a U.S. border wall, while the Senate opposes such restrictive language.  It’s the "wall matter" that has stopped this process and neither the Senate nor the House is likely to relent.  

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