December 4, 2018 Update

[New information bolded and italicized]

Congress is in session for a few weeks before the next Congress gets sworn in on January 3, 2019. The major issue remaining is action on seven appropriations bills that are now funded only through December 7. While major national security legislation such as the Defense Authorization Bill, Defense Appropriations Bill and Energy and Water Appropriations Bill has been signed into law, the appropriations bills still facing action include State Department, Justice, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation and many more. With major disagreements over the $5 billion requested by President Trump for the wall with Mexico, a government shutdown appeared very possible on December 7. However, the death of former President George H.W. Bush and the government being closed on Wednesday, December 5, in his honor, Congress is likely to approve a new Continuing Resolution extending the deadline until December 21 that ensures funding for the agencies where appropriation bills have not been approved.

Key Fiscal Year 2019 National Security Bills

Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget requests $617.1 billion for the Defense Department’s annual “base” discretionary budget, which is more than $90 billion higher than FY 18 enacted levels. This amount does not include certain other security spending, including funding for nuclear weapons-related work in the Department of Energy. Nor does it include an additional request of $69.0 billion for the Pentagon’s portion of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account – also referred to as “war funding.” Including all of these accounts, the total national defense discretionary spending request is $714.9 billion.

On June 7, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved the $674.6 billion Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill. Click here for a committee summary of the bill. The full committee approved the bill on June 13 by a 48-4 vote. An amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force was rejected 22-30. Appropriators also rejected, 24-27, an amendment from Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) to bar funding for the deportation of military service members shielded by the Obama-era DACA program.

On June 28, the House passed the bill by a 359-49 vote after lawmakers adopted an amendment to bar the Pentagon from doing business with the Chinese telecom firms ZTE and Huawei. An amendment by Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) to eliminate funds for a new space-based missile defense system failed 160-251.

On June 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill by a vote of 30-1. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to delay spending for deployment for a new low yield nuclear weapon for submarines, pending completion of a report.

On August 23, the Senate approved by a vote of 85-7 the behemoth appropriations measure combining the Defense Appropriations bill and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. More than 300 amendments were filed to the bill but controversial issues were waived off. The total cost of the two bills is about $857 billion.

On September 18, the Senate approved a package nicknamed a “mini-bus” — Defense appropriations and Labor, Health and Human Resources wrapped into one bill — by a vote of 93-7. 

On September 26, the House approved the bill by a vote of 361 – 61, with most of the “no” votes coming from Republicans.

Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Bill

All House Armed Services subcommittees approved their portions of the Fiscal Year 2019 bill on April 26. Click here for the Strategic Forces Subcommittee section of the bill. On May 9, the full House Armed Services Committee marked up the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Bill. H.R. 5515 is available here.

On May 24, the full House approved the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Bill by a vote of 351-66 after considering a number of amendments. The bill’s topline funding of $717 billion for the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy’s defense activities, and other defense spending is similar to the Trump Administration’s request.

A Garamendi (D-CA)-Blumenauer (D-OR amendment to withhold half of the $65 million authorized for a low-yield submarine-launch nuclear weapon failed 188-226. An Aguilar (D-CA) amendment to require that the Pentagon provide Congress the cost of building and maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile over a 20-year span was defeated 198-217. A Polis (D-CO), Blumenauer (D-OR) amendment reducing the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons account by $198,000,000 went down 173-239.

On May 23, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the same bill in a 25-2 vote. The committee summary of the bill can be found here

After Senators deadlocked on which amendments could be offered, the Senate concluded consideration of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Bill on June 18. The Senate approved the bill by a 85-10 vote. There were over 630 amendments submitted to the bill, but there were only a handful of roll call votes and 44 non-controversial amendments adopted en bloc. Senators blocked each other’s amendments because they could not get votes on their own amendments.

Congress completed action on the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Authorization Bill, apparently on the earliest date in four decades. Click here for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation analysis of the nuclear provisions. On July 26, the House approved the conference report by a vote of 359-54. On August 1, the Senate approved the bill 87 to 10.

Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

The Administration Fiscal Year 2019 budget authority request for atomic energy defense activities is $23.1 billion, an increase from the Fiscal Year 2017 enacted level of $21.4 billion.

On May 16, the House Appropriations Committee marked-up the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Bill, which includes funding for nuclear weapons (not delivery systems) and defense nuclear nonproliferation programs. The bill and report can be found here and here. According to the committee-released summary, the bill is $1.5 billion above the Fiscal Year 2018 enacted level and $8.2 billion above the President’s budget request.

During markup, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) offered and withdrew an amendment to strike the NNSA request of $65 million for the W76-2, the low-yield nuclear weapon, and move the funds to the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Account.

On June 8, the House approved by a 235-179 vote a “minibus” package of three appropriations bills, including the Energy and Water bill. A Lee (D-CA) amendment to cut funds for a new low yield nuclear weapon was defeated 177-241.

On May 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the $43.8 billion Energy-Water appropriations bill by a 30-1 vote. The bill is funded at $566 million above fiscal 2018 levels and $7.24 billion above the Trump administration’s request. Click here for an Appropriations Committee summary of the bill. During the markup, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) offered an amendment to cut the $65 million request for the low-yield nuclear weapons, but lost 12-19.

On June 25, the Senate completed action on a “minibus” appropriations package — combining more than one fiscal 2019 appropriations bill — including Energy-Water, Military Construction-Veterans and Legislative Branch. The bill was approved by a vote of 86-5. There were no major changes to the bill on the Senate floor. The House has already passed its version.

Both the House and Senate  cleared a three-appropriations bill package that provides funds for the Departments of Energy and Veterans, Congressional operations, water projects and military construction for fiscal year 2019. On September 21, the President signed the first “mini-bus” appropriations package, including Energy-Water, Military Construction-Veterans and Legislative Branch. 

Fiscal Year 2019 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

The Fiscal Year 2019 Department of State and US Agency for International Development request is $38.7 billion, a huge decrease from the Fiscal Year 2017 enacted budget of $55.6 billion.

On June 20, the House Appropriations Committee  approved the fiscal year 2019 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill on a vote of 30-21. The legislation funds the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, and other international activities. The bill provides $54 billion, the same as the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. Click here for the committee summary.

Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF)

The last three Presidents have relied on outdated AUMF’s from 2001 and 2002 to justify numerous overseas engagements. These measures have been a substitute for Congress’s Constitutional authority to declare war, which has not happened since 1941. There are been a number of abortive attempts to pass a new AUMF to put the Congressional imprint on the wars against ISIL and other terrorist groups. Senators Corker (R-TN), Kaine (D-VA), Young (R-IN), Nelson (D-FL), Flake (R-AZ) and Coons (D-DE) introduced an updated AUMF in April. The bill attracted quick opposition from the left, the White House, the Pentagon and Speaker Ryan. It’s fate is uncertain at best.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced another proposed AUMF. Click here for a summary of principles of his bill.

In the House, Reps. Coffman (R-CO), Gallego (D-AZ), Bacon (R-NE) and Panetta (D-CA) are also promoting an updated AUMF bill. Last year, the four introduced H. J.Res. 118 to provide Congressional authorization guidelines for the use of military force.

Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Resolution

Neither the House or Senate will produce a Budget Resolution this year, as the funding levels have been set in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget deal earlier this year.


Key Fiscal Year 2018 National Security Bills

Fiscal Year 2018 Defense/Omnibus Appropriations Bill

On the evening of March 21, the House-Senate conferees finally finished and filed the massive 2,232 page Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill at a total cost of $1.3 trillion. Defense was one of the major sections of the bill. With the latest Continuing Resolution running out and a recess about to start, the House leadership rushed the bill to the House floor. On March 22, the House passed the bill by a 256-167. The Senate followed suit early in the morning of March 23 by a vote of 65-32.


Congressional recess schedule in 2018 

??? End of congressional session