With the debt limit crisis settled, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to move quickly this month on overdue work on the fiscal 2024 defense budget and annual defense authorization bill, in hopes of finishing that work by summer’s end.
Markups of the respective House and Senate versions of the authorization bill were set to take place last month, but ended up delayed because of the debt ceiling uncertainty. The chambers’ armed services committees are expected to reschedule them in the next few weeks.
Similarly, work on next year’s defense spending plans were postponed until after the debt limit negotiations. The deal struck between White House officials and House Republican leaders (and signed into law late last week) set out $886 billion in military appropriations next year, providing clarity on the path ahead for the lawmakers’ budget work.
But that target isn’t set in stone. A number of Democratic and Republican senators have said that number — an increase of 3% — isn’t enough to keep pace with foreign threats, and that a defense supplemental will be needed to cover the shortfall. With just six weeks of legislative session scheduled for this summer, party leaders will need to move quickly to decide whether to ignore those complaints or find ways to bump up the budget.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.