CHN: President’s Budget Expected in March

Looking past FY19, President Trump’s FY2020 topline budget message, priorities, and summary tables are now expected to be released the week of March 11. Detailed line-item information, including details on any proposed cuts to mandatory and discretionary (annually-appropriated) programs, will be released the week of March 18. The statutory deadline for a president to release his or her budget this year would have been Feb. 4, but there is no penalty for not meeting this deadline, and it has been frequently missed by presidents of both parties. The White House Office of Management and Budget has said this year’s delay is due to the long partial government shutdown. Timelines have not yet been announced for the release of congressional budget proposals, but House Democrats have expressed an interest in adopting a budget resolution early enough to allow joint agreement with the Senate by mid-April, the deadline called for in law but often ignored. It is not at all clear that the Senate will be interested in adopting a budget resolution for FY 2020. CHN will provide analysis of the President’s budget and of congressional budget proposals when they are released.    

Congressional leaders are expected to try to negotiate a new budget deal to raise both defense and nondefense discretionary spending caps for FY20 and FY21. Without a new deal, deep sequestration cuts put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will return, cutting discretionary spending by $126 billion, or 10 percent, in FY20. CQ reported that President Trump’s budget may adhere to the harsh sequester-level cap for nondefense spending but would propose spending above the cap for defense programs. Senate Armed Services Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-OK) recently called for $750 billion in total defense spending, a major increase that he said could be achieved by more than doubling the amount provided in the uncapped Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. Instead of the $69 billion in OCO funds this year, Inhofe suggests spending $174 billion in FY 2020, despite the fact that OCO war-related operations are scheduled to diminish. If adopted, this would be an explicit effort to shatter budget caps in favor of Pentagon spending.