8 September 2016 Legislative News Update
DEFENSE SPENDING STALLED AGAIN
It’s a 99.9% probability that Congress will pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running past the Oct. 1 deadline. How they reach their goal is the billion dollar question.
Any optimism the Senate had that they would be able to pass the defense spending bill was dashed Tuesday when the legislation failed to garner the 60 votes needed to proceed. This is the third time Democrats have blocked the measure.
Democrats are not necessarily opposed to the language in the bill, rather it is a tactical maneuver. They believe they will have more leverage over Republicans to secure additional domestic spending in the final FY17 spending package that presumably will be passed after the November elections.
There is nothing to suggest the path to passing a CR will be any easier.
The Senate leadership is in discussions with the minority leaders and the White House to move a continuing resolution to the floor next week. The stop-gap measure would expire Dec. 9.
There is some speculation that if the Senate can actually pass the measure next week, they would adjourn early, thus tying the House’s hands - either pass the Senate’s version or allow the government to shut-down, not a pleasing prospect any time much less in an election year.
House Republicans are divided on the duration of the measure with some agreeing to the shorter CR and, others, namely the House Freedom Caucus who do not favor lame-duck sessions and want the CR to last until March 2017.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus have indicated that they will support the short term continuing resolution if the leadership includes language dealing with Syrian refugees, an idea that will certainly be rejected by Democrats.
Round and round it goes!
AUSA prefers passage of routine spending bills in a timely manner. However, since that is unlikely, we strongly favor a short-term continuing resolution.
There hasn't been a full year's appropriation, adopted on time since 2007. While CRs are far better than government shut-downs, they are not a substitute for actual appropriations.
Under CR funding, the Army cannot move money around where it's actually needed or start new contracts. Budget dollars are placed against needs and priorities of previous years, leaving the priorities and needs of the current year unfunded. The end result of all this is, at a minimum, things cost more and they take longer to get.
Congress is demanding that the Army spend less money but they are making it more difficult to achieve that goal. It’s no way to do business and unfortunately, we don’t see any return to regular order on the horizon.