A resolution of the House and Senate versions of the defense authorization bill is not likely until after the Nov. 8 election, multiple defense experts said on Tuesday. Such a delay would dampen hope that the Pentagon would have a new budget before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, the panel said during a discussion at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The panel emphasized the instability that results from an uncertain budgetary process and the growing reliance on continuing resolutions to fund government activities, especially defense programs in a time when troops are in battle. Justin Johnson, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said the Obama administration has operated the defense budget on “continuing resolutions seven years in a row” and that the Bush administration did so “four out of eight years.” Johnson said that the failure to approve an actual defense budget signaled the breaking apart of “a consensus that defense is a common priority.” Andrew Hunter, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said “historically there has been a common vision … we need a more consensus proposal.” Johnson predicted that an initial continuing resolution would run through December and might be followed by a second continuing resolution. (See also: Senate Passes NDAA, Robbing OCO to Fund Readiness)
Gen. Mark A. Milley handed over his responsibilities as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the nation’s top military officer—to Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. on a gray Sept. 29 morning, marking a milestone in a turbulent era of U.S. defense policy.