The Government Is (Finally) Fully Funded. What’s Next?

The Government Is (Finally) Fully Funded. What’s Next?
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With full appropriations secured, the White House and Congress need to pivot to other priorities shaping authorizations and appropriations for the following fiscal year. Here are three key items MOAA will track over the coming months:  


1. National Security Strategy 

The law requires the president to update his Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, issued in March 2021, and provide an annual national security strategy report to Congress alongside his budget; Congress had received neither the budget nor the report as of this writing. 


The interim report may point toward the contents of the updated report. It focuses on prioritizing diplomacy, reading in part: “We will ensure our armed forces are equipped to deter our adversaries, defend our people, interests, and allies, and defeat threats that emerge. But the use of military force should be a last resort, not the first; diplomacy, development, and economic statecraft should be the leading instruments of American Foreign policy.” 


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on NATO, along with the growing rivalry with China, might inform the strategic balance between military forces and diplomacy in the upcoming report and the attendant budget.  


2. Secretary of Defense’s Annual Report 

The secretary of defense also owes an annual report to Congress laying out military mission and force structure for the next fiscal year, an explanation of the relationships between the mission and forces needed, and the justification for both.  


The secretary must consider the president’s National Security Strategy when preparing the annual report, and while it’s highly likely the secretary and the White House are preparing these reports in tandem, one depends on the other -- the process could delay both reports and the budget. 


Another deliverable, due every four years, is the more comprehensive National Defense Strategy addressed to the secretaries and chiefs of staff of the military departments, along with the commanders of the unified and specified commands, and others. 


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3. FY 2023 Budget 

The president’s budget, to be delivered not later than the first Monday of February, is instrumental in shaping the authorizations and follow-on appropriations across the whole of government. This extensive, complex document is already late this year; last year’s budget was released May 28.


These delays push many critical pieces of legislative business to the right – major authorizations like the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and other legislation for military construction and veterans affairs, for example, along with other requirements across the government. Teams of staffers on the Hill are working these issues now, but they will have to continuously edit to ensure draft bills include emerging changes. 


Finding common ground on appropriations to fund these authorizations has proven more difficult every year. And while efforts remain underway to find that common ground, Congress is busy conducting other matters for committees, constituents, and campaigns. We also must account for a summer working period in home districts and states during August; after that break, there will be only 11 days in FY 2022 with both chambers in session. 


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The extensive procedures between parties and committees building solutions through compromise, and assessing political equities and potential outcomes, represents a major challenge, but it’s the nature of politics in our system. It’s also very time-consuming, and when issues are pushed into September before the bargaining even begins, Congress ends up against the clock and resorts to continuing resolutions again and again. 


MOAA is hopeful Congress and the administration can wrap up these priorities as soon as practical. We will watch closely over this next month or so and continue to leverage our access to advocate for our legislative priorities at every opportunity. Stand by for updates as we learn the details about the strategies and budget, and how both will impact past and present members of our uniformed services, their families, and survivors. 


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About the Author

Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret)
Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret)

Merry earned his commission in 1989 through AFROTC and commanded DoD’s Port Mortuary at Dover AFB, Del. He has served in multiple overseas conflicts since the 1990s and has served as the Vice President of Government Relations since August 2016.