Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments research fellow Katherine Blakeley noted that Congress has little time left to iron out a federal spending plan, with nominations and an ambitious GOP agenda that includes tax reform and a health care overhaul eating up the legislative calendar. “They’re trying to move with alacrity, but they’re facing down the clock,” she said. The GOP strategy to pass spending measures is a big, open question, Blakeley said. For defense, it’s unclear whether Congress will hew to the Mattis budget request’s emphasis on research and development as well as and operations and maintenance — or upend it by seeking more procurement funding. “Will they shift more money into O&M or will they try to grow the force — which Mattis says the Pentagon is not ready to do, and that they want to prepare to grow in fiscal '19,” Blakeley said. “How fast can the Army responsibly grow?”
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