Senate Approves Budget Deal Before Leaving Town

Senate Approves Budget Deal Before Leaving Town
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The Senate voted this month to send a two-year budget deal to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature. The agreement sets new spending levels for FY 2020 and FY 2021 and suspends the debt limit until July 2021. The House has also approved the agreement. 

With the budget deal under wraps, senators have headed home for the August recess. This is an invaluable time for you, as a constituent, to meet with your elected officials to discuss important matters of national security. There are two topics MOAA encourages you to talk to your legislators about while they’re home.

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The deal sets a broad framework of top-level spending numbers for federal agencies, making it easier for lawmakers to write individual appropriations bills. The budget agreement is separate from the defense authorization bill, an annual piece of legislation outlining the things on which DoD can spend money, like military pay, health care, and survivors benefits.

When Congress returns in early September, they’ll begin a mad dash to pass spending bills before the start of the new fiscal year Oct.1. If they fail to pass spending bills before the start of the new fiscal year, Congress will have to rely on a stopgap measure known as a continuing resolution in order to maintain operations, or it will shut down.

House lawmakers already passed 10 of the 12 annual appropriations bills before heading home for the August recess. But with new topline spending numbers in the budget deal, lawmakers will have to go back and find ways to trim about $15 billion in non-defense spending and add about $5 billion to defense accounts.

To expedite the budget process, leaders on the Senate Appropriations Committee want to combine DoD spending with other federal agencies, like the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

If Congress is successful, this would be the second year in a row the Pentagon received a completed budget before the start of the fiscal year. The Pentagon has routinely had to start new fiscal years under continuing resolutions, leading to cost overruns, delays on starting new programs, and an erosion of military readiness.

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About the Author

James Naughton
James Naughton

James Naughton is a former Associate Director, Compensation and Legislation, for MOAA Government Relations.