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January 22, 2018 Update

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Congress is once more wrapped around the axle and a government shutdown lasted a couple of days, but on January 22 appeared to be at an end. However, almost four months into Fiscal Year 2018, the same issues remain on the agenda: funding levels for defense and for non-defense, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), more than a temporary fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), disaster relief, Opiod crisis funding, some tax fixes and other programs.  At present, government spending remains largely at the Fiscal 2017 levels until a new agreement is reach. The hardest term in the congressional lexicon is “compromise.” The next deadline: February 8, when this latest Continuing Resolution runs out.

 

Key Fiscal Year 2018 National Security Bills

Fiscal Year 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill

On June 26, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its bill and the full committee on June 29. The bill provides $658.1 billion for the Department of Defense. This total includes $584.2 billion in discretionary funding – an increase of $68.1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $18.4 billion above the President’s request. The bill also provides $73.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)/Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) funding. Click here for a committee summary of the bill.

On July 27, the House approved four appropriations bills in one package, including Defense. The House Rules Committee permitted very few controversial issues to be considered as amendments.

On September 14, the House completed action on a $1.23 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, finishing up with a package of eight individual appropriations bills after earlier approving four bills in a package. The packages stop there; the Senate has not taken final action on any of the appropriations bill and will not consider the bundled bills as a package. The bill is significantly above the budget caps, and if enacted would trigger across-the-board spending cuts required by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) has recommended $581.3 billion in base Department of Defense funding, $15.4 billion above the President’s budget request, and $64.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, roughly equal to the President’s budget request, plus $4.5 billion in emergency funding requested by the President for Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancements. Click here for the Council’s analysis of the Chairman’s proposal. The bill exceeds President Trump’s request by $15.3 billion, and exceeds the sequestration caps by $70 billion.

Next step at some point: House and Senate, Democratic and Republican negotiations agree on a new budget cap for defense. Negotiations are on-going, but there is no agreement as yet. In December, a version of the Continuing Resolution included funding for a couple of special “emergency” Pentagon programs, including $4 billion for missile defense and related programs and $700 million for ship repairs.

Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Bill

The House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee took a number of hardline positions, including limiting funds to extend the New START nuclear reductions treaty, limiting nuclear weapons dismantlement, establishing a Space Corps to fight and win wars in space and requiring the development of a ground-launched cruise missile system that, if tested, would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Click here for highlights from House Strategic Forces Subcommittee mark up.

In a marathon session, the full committee approved the bill late June 28 by a vote of 60-1. The bill totals $696.5 billion, including $631.5 billion for base requirements and $65 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations account. Click here for our summary of the bill.

On July 14, after considering many amendments, the full House approved the bill by a vote of 344-81.

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill on June 29. The bill authorizes a total of $700 billion for defense, including $632 billion for the Pentagon and Department of Energy nuclear programs plus $60 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). Click here for the Council for a Livable World summary of the bill.

On September 18, the Senate gave its final approval to the bill by a vote of 89-9. Despite a lot of time talking and negotiating, and 617 amendments filed to the bill, the Senate had a recorded vote on only one substantive issue: Authorization to Use Military Force. Before final passage, the Senate adopted about 155 mostly “non-controversial” amendments.  Click here for the Council for a Livable World write-up.

On November 9, conferees produced a 2,467 page conference report  that authorizes $700 billion. The bill produces many increases in conventional weapons and missile defense.  Click here for the Council for a Livable World analysis. Click here for the Senate Armed Services summary of the bill. Click here for the House Armed Services summary of the bill.  On November 14, the House approved the bill by a vote of 356-70. On November 16, the Senate approved the conference report by voice vote. The President signed the bill on December 12.

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution

On July 20, the House Budget Committee approved a Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution. The budget sets overall discretionary spending for fiscal year 2018 at $1.1 trillion, including $621.5 billion in defense and $511 billion in non-defense discretionary spending. There are also about $205 billion in cuts to entitlement programs over the next decade.  On October 5, the House approved the budget by a vote of 219-206.

On October 19, the Senate approved the FY 2018 Budget Resolution by a vote of 51-49. While the main goal was to pave the way for tax reform, the resolution provides $549 billion for defense, the maximum level of regular defense funding allowed under current law, a level designed to forestall sequestration cuts contained in budget law. The resolution includes a mechanism to adjust these levels if an agreement on revised funding levels is reached.

On October 26, to speed up the legislative process for tax reform, the House accepted the Senate-passed budget by a vote of 216-212. The numbers in the resolution matter less than paving the way to deal with taxes.

Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

On June 27, the House Appropriations Committee released its version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, the bill that funds nuclear weapons. The bill totals $37.56 billion – $209 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $3.65 billion above the President’s budget request. That total includes $13.9 billion for Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons security programs, including Weapons Activities, Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors – a $976 million increase above the fiscal year 2017 level. Click here for a summary of the bill. The full House Appropriations Committee approved the bill by voice vote on July 12.

On July 27, the House approved four appropriations bills in one package, including Energy and Water.

On September 14, the House completed action on a $1.23 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, finishing up with a package of eight individual appropriations bills after earlier approving four bills in a package. The packages stop there; the Senate has not taken final action on any of the appropriations bill and will not consider the bundled bills as a package. The bill is significantly above the budget caps, and if enacted would trigger across-the-board spending cuts required by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Next step at some point in the future: House and Senate, Democratic and Republican negotiations on a new budget cap.

Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

On July 12, the House Appropriations committee released its draft bill. Click here for a summary of the bill. The full Appropriations Committee approved the bill on July 19.

On September 14, the House completed action on a $1.23 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, finishing up with a package of eight individual appropriations bills after earlier approving four bills in a package. The packages stop there; the Senate has not taken final action on any of the appropriations bill and will not consider the bundled bills as a package. The bill is significantly above the budget caps, and if enacted would trigger across-the-board spending cuts required by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Next step at some point in the future: House and Senate, Democratic and Republican negotiations on a new budget cap.

Iran and Russia sanctions

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved S.722, a bill adding new sanctions on Iran related to its support for terrorism and its ballistic missile program. The bill was reported favorably out of committee by a vote of 18-3, with Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeff  Merkley (D-OR) voting against it. Last minute opposition from former Secretary of State John Kerry failed to stem the momentum for the bill.

On June 15, the bill was approved 98-2. Before doing so, a Crapo (R-ID) amendment to tighten sanctions on Russia for its election interference was approved 97-2. In addition, a Graham (R-SC) amendment to reaffirm the strategic importance of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty (after mixed signals from the Trump administration) was approved unanimously 100-0.

Late on July 27, the Senate approved a bill to place sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea by a vote of 98-2, after House approval on July 26 by a vote of 419-3. The President reluctantly signed the bill.

Completed legislation

 

Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

The Defense Appropriations bill was combined with 10 other appropriations bill to become the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill comprising 11 individual appropriations bills.  On May 3, the House approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 308-118 and the Senate cleared it on May 4 by a vote of 79-18.

The measure provides funding through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2017. The total funding in the bill is $1.163 trillion, including $1.07 trillion for base discretionary funding subject to budget caps and a total of $93.5 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget that serves to evade the budget caps.

The total funding for the Pentagon in FY 2017 is $598.5 billion, an increase of $25.7 billion from FY 2016.That total includes the $593 billion in this bill — $516.1 billion in base discretionary funding and $76.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations – plus an additional $5.8 billion in supplementary Pentagon funding approved when Congress passed a Continuing Resolution in December 2016.

Click here for further Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation analysis of the bill.

 

Congressional recess schedule in 2018 

Friday, January 19 – Monday, January 29: House recess
Friday, February 16 – Monday, February 26: Congressional recess
Thursday/Friday, March 22/23 – Monday/Tuesday, April 9/10: Congressional recess
Friday, April 27–Monday, May 7: Congressional recess
Thursday/Friday, May 24/25 – Monday/Tuesday June 4/5: Congressional recess
Thursday/Friday, June 28/29 – Monday/Tuesday, July 9/10: Congressional recess
Thursday, July 26 – Tuesday, September 4: House recess
Friday, August 3 – Tuesday, September 4: Senate recess
Friday, September 14 – Tuesday, September 25: House recess
Friday, October 12 – Tuesday, November 13: House recess
Friday, October 26 – Tuesday November 13: Senate recess
Friday, November 16 – Monday/Tuesday, November 26/27: Congressional recess
Thursday/Friday, December 13/14 – end of year: Congressional recess