In an unusual move, the Trump Administration is moving forward with plans to publicly release a detailed FY2022 defense budget. This comes not only in a lame duck term, but while Congress has yet to approve the National Defense Authorization Act or pass an FY2021 budget.
According to Defense One, administration officials are adding on funding to the Pentagon’s budget request despite deficits from the coronavirus pandemic and other economic factors. Seamus Daniels, Associate Director and Associate Fellow for Defense Budget Analysis at CSIS, says this might be a tactic for the outgoing administration to control the conversation moving forward.
“What the Trump Administration might be trying to do is get its priorities out early so it can use that to criticize the Biden administration when it comes in, when it takes over the FY2022 budget and then releases it later this year,” Daniels said.
This also comes as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said earlier this month that it’s reasonable to believe defense budgets in the coming Biden administration could remain flat or even decline. Daniels explains that economic recovery from the pandemic may take priority over defense spending in the coming years as well.
“A lot of this comes down to whether Congress wants to tackle the [federal] deficit … moving forward, Congress may decide to pass deficit reduction measures, which could have a significant impact on the defense budget,” Daniels said. “Historically the most significant downturns [in defense spending] have come after periods of high deficits.”
Despite some looking to FY2022, Congress still needs to pass an omnibus spending bill or continuing resolution before current government funding runs out at the end of the week.