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Frederico Bartels is a policy analyst for defense budgeting at The Heritage Foundation's Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy.
With President Donald Trump’s signature Monday at Fort Drum, New York, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 will be the earliest a defense authorization bill has become law since 1978.
Years - Bill - Pages - Department - Defense
Forty years ago, the bill was 16 pages long and was called the “Department of Defense Appropriation Authorization Act, 1978.” This year’s NDAA is close to 800 pages. The early date is even more impressive considering that the last time that the NDAA was signed into law before the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 was in 1997.
The early passage of the 2019 NDAA represents a level of stability and predictability uncommon in the recent history of the Department of Defense, and it should be very helpful in the efforts to rebuild our military.
Factors - Timing - NDAA - Bipartisan - Budget
There are two important factors worth noting that contributed to the early timing of the 2019 NDAA: the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the shadow projected by the absence of Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Bipartisan Budget Act has its flaws and represented the capitulation of substantial budgetary controls for 2018 and 2019; nonetheless, it brought a much-needed defense budget increase for both years. The 2019 defense base budget was set at $647 billion, of which a little over $639 billion was under the auspices of the NDAA.
Number - Point - Contention - Lawmakers - NDAA
The increased and certain budgetary number removed the biggest point of contention that lawmakers usually have with the NDAA. It enabled both the House and Senate to start working from a common top line and all but eliminated the debates on how to balance defense with other priorities in the budget.
Since late December, McCain has been...
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