'MINIBUSES' MAY NOT START
Association of Defense Communities: Defense Communities 360
The GOP likely will be forced to abandon its plan to wrap up fiscal 2017 appropriations by passing a series of “minibuses” because of the abbreviated schedule when Congress returns to Washington next week, budget experts at the Heritage Foundation said last week. Democrats oppose the idea because of the possibility that Republicans would pass one spending package for defense and other national security-related agencies, and then rely on continuing resolutions to fund the rest of the government. Lawmakers’ first priority may be negotiating an FY 2017 supplemental spending bill that includes additional funds to support U.S. military operations overseas and an equal amount for domestic needs, reported CQ Roll Call. Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord last week said the department would request a $6 billion supplemental. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, meanwhile, is calling for a much larger supplemental that invests in maintaining sufficient readiness and capacity across the “total force” necessary to sustain high operational demands on the armed forces, reported Politico. An agreement between Republicans and the White House over a supplemental may pave the way for a deal over the topline for defense spending. The administration has criticized the House’s defense appropriations bill for its reliance on $15.7 billion in overseas contingency operations account funds for base budget items — including more weapons and equipment, and higher end strength levels — not requested by DOD. A compromise resulting in a larger supplemental could bridge the gap between the two sides.