1. Background
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Congressional Timeline on Pentagon Spending

By Anthony Wier, October 2, 2017


Congress must take many steps to set the Pentagon’s final budget. For the fiscal year starting on October 1 (FY 2018), Congress and the president have already agreed to fund operations through December 8, 2017 at last year’s spending rate. Between now and then they still must reach a deal on the full year’s budget, or buy still more time.

This is why it is so important that you join us in Washington from November 2-5 for our Annual Meeting: We will be calling on our representatives and senators to reject increases in Pentagon spending at the exact moment when Congress will be making these decisions.

To help you get ready, here is a quick overview of what has happened on Pentagon spending, and what decisions remain:

  • May 5: Congress and the president agreed on a final appropriations bill for FY 2017 that, despite rejecting a Trump request for an additional $30 billion, nevertheless increased Pentagon spending by $15 billion to $634 billion.

  • May 23: The Trump administration submitted a budget proposal for FY 2018 to Congress seeking $668 billion in Pentagon spending while proposing to slash funds for non-defense discretionary programs.

  • July 14: The House of Representatives voted 344-81 on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to provide almost $700 billion in Pentagon spending for FY 2018, a $60 billion increase. This bill only sets policies and spending targets—actual spending levels must be set by separate appropriations bills.

  • July 19: The House Budget Committee voted on party lines (22-14) to recommend to the full House a budget resolution that would provide $697 billion in Pentagon spending. Even if the House and Senate agree on a budget resolution, actual spending levels must be set by separate appropriations bills.

  • July 28: The House of Representatives voted 235-192 on a version of appropriations legislation that would provide around $697 billion in total defense spending— a $60 billion increase from 2017 levels.

  • September 18: The Senate voted 89-8 on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize nearly $700 billion in Pentagon spending for FY 2018. Because the Senate version differs from the House version, the two bodies still must reach agreement on final legislation. This bill only sets policies and spending targets—actual spending levels must be set by separate appropriations bills.

  • October 5: The House voted on party lines (219-2016 to pass its version of the budget resolution, which provides $697 billion in Pentagon spending.

  • October 19: The Senate narrowly passed its version of the Budget Resolution on a vote of 51-49. Its version of the budget resolution sets Pentagon spending at the level of the Budget Control Act cap for 2018 ($549 billion). Some news sources have mistakenly interpreted exemplary language in the budget resolution as setting a target for Pentagon spending at $640 billion, but that is incorrect.

Congress has not yet completed these key steps:

  • Neither the Senate Appropriations Committee nor the full Senate has voted on most Pentagon spending appropriations legislation for FY 2018. Possible action: Mid- to Late-October

  • The House and the Senate have not agreed to a concurrent budget resolution. In a bid to speed the consideration of a tax cut package, we expect the House to pass the Senate's version of the budget resolution without changes during the week of October 23.

  • The House and the Senate have not agreed to final appropriations levels for FY 2018. Possible action: Late November to Early December.

  • The House and the Senate have not voted to increase the mandatory $549 billion cap on FY 2018 regular Pentagon spending mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, nor have they reached agreement on funding levels for “Overseas Contingency Operations,” which are exempt from that cap. Possible action: Late November to Early December.

Remember, if you are interested, you can learn even more about this process here.

Anthony Wier

  • Legislative Secretary, Nuclear Disarmament and Pentagon Spending

Anthony is our lead lobbyist and the director of FCNL's work on nuclear weapons policy and is the key team leader working on our efforts to rein in Pentagon spending. He is also responsible for maintaining FCNL’s Nuclear Calendar and for representing FCNL with the various coalitions that work on these issues.