Next Monday the President is scheduled to submit his fiscal year 2016 budget request to Congress, an annual process that marks the official beginning of the budget season. While we don’t have the details of what will be included in this year’s defense budget yet, the broad outlines are well known. The Defense Department’s base budget for FY 2016 is expected to total $534 billion (not including war funding), which is a six percent real increase from the level appropriated in FY 2015. The administration is also expected to request an additional $51 billion in war funding, for a total of some $585 billion in DoD funding.
Given the newly elected Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, one might think that things are beginning to look up for the defense. But the Pentagon shouldn’t pop the Champagne corks just yet. Raising the defense budget isn’t that easy because when it comes to the budget, process matters.
In recent years, the process has broken down. The President has repeatedly been late in submitting budget requests to Congress, and Congress has been unusually late in passing appropriations bills.