August 30, 2017 |

Justin Doubleday

 

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI) are seeking details on the effects a continuing resolution to start fiscal year 2018 would have on the Defense Department.

In an Aug. 29 letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, McCain and Reed ask for an “in-depth list of impacts” for each military branch, defense agency and combatant command under both a three-month and a six-month CR. They request the information by Sept. 8.

“Military leaders have time and again warned members of the Senate Armed Services Committee about the negative impacts of starting each fiscal year on a continuing resolution,” the senators wrote. “As the Senate prepares to consider a continuing resolution for fiscal year 2018, we believe it would be prudent to have a concrete understanding of its impacts on the military.”

The senators admit with the limited amount of time Congress has to reach a deal on the federal budget before the start of FY-18 on Oct. 1 — just 12 legislative days — “it is very likely” a CR will be put in place yet again.

Lawmakers have yet to reach a deal on lifting the Budget Control Act spending caps. The House has passed an FY-18 defense spending bill that would fund the Pentagon’s budget at $584 billion and Overseas Contingency Operations account at $74 billion. The bill blows past the BCA’s mandatory spending cap of $549 billion.

Senate appropriators, meanwhile, have yet to take up a defense spending bill, but have said they will stick to BCA limits with $513.1 billion in DOD base funding and $82.1 billion for OCO.

Budget negotiations are further complicated by President Trump’s new plan for the war in Afghanistan. The plan to increase troops and operations in Afghanistan will require some sort of increase in the OCO account, which is exempt from the BCA caps.