Expectations have been building for the FY 2020 defense budget request, a budget that acting secretary of defense Shanahan has called the “masterpiece.” While the administration’s FY 2019 defense budget of $716 billion is fully funded through the remainder of the current fiscal year, a surprising number of statements on defense spending from the White House over the past several months have generated significant discussion and uncertainty around the FY 2020 request, calling into question whether or not it will be a masterpiece after all.
In addition to waiting for the final topline figure, questions remain over how the budget will be composed, whether its priorities align with those of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), and how much detail it provides on the administration’s plans for national security space reorganization.
The request also comes in the leadup to the debate over raising the Budget Control Act (BCA) budget caps for FY 2020 and FY 2021. As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) works on finalizing the request, experts from the CSIS International Security Program outline what to look for in the FY 2020 defense budget below.
The FY 2020 defense budget request has already had a wild ride, and it has not even been submitted yet. Last February, in its FY 2019 defense budget request, the Trump administration forecasted a total national defense budget (including base Department of Defense (DoD) funding, Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), and nuclear activities—the “050” budget function in congressional budget terms) of $733 billion for FY 2020. In October, the president cut that projection to $700 billion over concerns about the size of the federal deficit.
In December, then-secretary of defense James Mattis objected, joined by then-House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK). The president reportedly reversed himself and increased the budget to $750 billion.
What should we be looking for when this fluctuating budget is finally presented? (end of excerpt)
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