The 115th Congress started their work last week with organizational meetings, and this week's focus is the beginning of confirmation hearings for President-Elect Trump's administration. Budget caps established in the 2011 Budget Control Act remain. However, many in the defense industry expect an increased defense topline in the next budget, and AFA will continue to advocate that sequestration be eliminated. This week, Senate confirmation hearings begin, including Thursday's confirmation hearing for retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as the next Secretary of Defense (SECDEF). With your help, the Air Force Association will continue to work tirelessly to advocate for budget stability and promote a dominant United States Air Force.
2017 Congressional Priorities: Affordable Care Act, Infrastructure, Defense Spending
Senate Republicans opened the new Congress by introducing a fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions allowing for a speedy repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Congress has much left to do as the current fiscal year (2017) continuing resolution (CR) spending ends April 28th. That will give the Air Force only about 5 months to finalize new contracts when the next spending bill is appropriated. In the meantime, we can expect the department to spend its money slowly and carefully, and new program starts will be on hold. Although the President's Budget's (PB) statutory deadline is the first Monday in February, the budget may be released as late as May. With the smallest Air Force in history and the average age of AF aircraft at 27 years old, President-Elect Trump has pledged more than $93 billion in increased topline for defense spending, and although a new increase is expected, it will likely be much lower. The Trump Administration has promised to work with Congress to repeal the defense sequester, provide the Air Force with the 1,200 fighter aircraft needed, modernize U.S. nuclear weapons systems, emphasize cyber warfare, and conduct a full financial audit of the Pentagon. The President-Elect has signaled scrutiny of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program costs. "What all of that really signals to me is that the President-Elect is going to be focusing on the taxpayer dollar, on efficiencies," Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James stated at the January AFA Breakfast, her last public appearance as Secretary.
President Trump Administration Begins January 20, 2017
January 20, 2017 will mark a new era with the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The release of his budget later this Spring will map his direction over the next four years. Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis is expected to be confirmed this week as the next Secretary of Defense. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work is expected to continue into the Trump Administration for several months until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate. An Acting Secretary of the Air Force will occupy the seat until the next Secretary is confirmed. The 115th Congress started their work last week when they were sworn in on Monday, Jan. 2nd, 2017. Republicans now have majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Last week, Representative Paul Ryan was re-elected to another two-year term as Speaker of the House. Representative Nancy Pelosi will continue as Minority Leader for the Democrats in the House. The House Defense Appropriations Committee will now have a new Chairwoman, Representative Kay Granger. In the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell will continue as Majority Leader while Senator Chuck Schumer will be Minority Leader. Congress will firm up their congressional committee rosters this week.
2017 Key Dates to Watch
January 2: 115th Congress, 1st Session Begins
January 20: Presidential Inauguration
February 6: President's Budget (PB) Released (Statutory Deadline)
February - June: Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Posture Budget Hearings
March 1-3: AFA's Annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, FL
September 18-20: AFA's Air, Space & Cyber Conference in Washington, DC