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Money Talk

Pentagon ‘Smart Spending’ Budget Plan for 2020

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 26, 2018, in Washington. The committee heard testimony on the Defense Authorization Request for FY19 and the Future Years Defense Program.

As the Pentagon finalizes its fiscal 2020 plan, the department does not expect to see another budget increase, according to senior official.

“If you gaze at ’18 and ’19, two nice step-ups, in terms of funding. And the intent is there’s not really another big step-up again,” said Robert Hood, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs.

Instead, the Pentagon has got to target finding savings to assist fund necessary requirements, including increasing funds for high-tech efforts such as hypersonic weapons.

“We know that Congress really took some political risk in some instances to deal with the department by doing this. And we are likely to do everything we can to reside approximately our side with the obligation to invest it wisely,” he was quoted saying.

“I think anticipation is we’re going to find some efficiencies and savings in things, in lots of dollars, that we could then reinvest into, whether it’s hypersonics or whatever it might be that requires the dollars. That’s form of our focus in hoping to get us over the out years.”

The 2020 budget will likely be “very important” for the Pentagon, Hood said, because it is the 1st budget that may firmly come after the publication with the National Defense Strategy.

“19 was certainly quite definitely relying on it, but this really is gonna now truly be all-encompassing. So, we feel the ’20 budget request is likely to be completely vital,” he explained, adding that this deadline is a few days away for your services to find out whatever they didn’t be in 2019 and try to fill those gaps.

“What we tell the departments, if their idea didn’t cope with, to resubmit. That process has already begun, so even though we had been still debating this bill, we’d already begun the whole process of collecting ideas for legislative proposals,” Hood said.

“The deadline’s actually Aug. 15 for pick up already, but that’s simply to obtain it into the system so we are able to begin to put it using chop process.”

The Pentagon’s preparations for that fiscal 2020 budget come as Congress still has substantial work ahead on finishing the fiscal 2019 defense spending process.

Last spring, chamber leaders and the White House agreed on $717 billion in military funding for fiscal 2019 included in a two-year spending plan for many defense and nondefense federal programs. On Wednesday, lawmakers finalized the annual defense authorization bill, setting broad policy provisions at that funding level for your upcoming budget year.

But the fiscal 2019 appropriations bill, which actually provides money for those plans, is still stalled in Congress. House lawmakers passed their version a few months ago, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., states he is hopeful his chamber can follow suit later this month, creating final negotiations on the topic in September.

While that timeline puts the Capitol Hill work well in advance of recent years’ pace, still it leaves lawmakers only a month of legislative session time between now and start in the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Hood acknowledged there exists uncertainty in what support for defense spending appears to be come November, with the possibility of Democrats to say one or both chambers of Congress.

“With the political environment following the election, it’s challenging to say where things will be, if there’s to be able to cut another budget deal. We certainly hope so, and we’re certainly prepared to help you,” Hood said. “My hope is we continue this bipartisan effort and possess national security as an issue which is not a partisan one.”

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