Issue Briefs

Congressional Dysfunction Threatens To Halt Trump Defense Buildup

Congressional Dysfunction Threatens To Halt Trump Defense Buildup

November 11, 2019

By Loren Thompson

Over the last several weeks, there has been growing concern on Capitol Hill that Congress might not pass a budget for the 2020 fiscal year that began October 1. When these situations arise, as they almost always do at the beginning of a fiscal year, government shutdown is averted by passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) that maintains prior-year spending levels into the new year.

The assumption typically is that Congress will eventually pass a real budget. This year, though, doubts are rising that a budget can be passed, given wrangling over funding for the president’s border wall and the very divisive impeachment process. At first observers were predicting a budget would pass by Thanksgiving. Then it was by Christmas. Now they are saying January-February of next year.

But it might not happen at all. The Pentagon and a slew of other agencies could be facing the prospect of a full-year CR that keeps funding levels for individual accounts in a fiscal straitjacket. If that actually occurs, it will have a devastating impact on Pentagon programs. A planned 14% increase in weapons accounts wouldn’t happen, blocking the purchase of needed munitions and new weapons to replace Cold War systems. Maintenance of the old weapons would also be impeded.

Read More Here:

The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.