Budget Agreement Clears the Path for NDAA Enactment    

The budget and debt ceiling agreement between the White House and Congress has cleared the way for final passage of the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains dozens of acquisition reform provisions. The acquisition provisions will remain unchanged as Congress initiates procedures to bring the bill to closure and PSC’s summary of NDAA “provisions of interest” will be available soon.

Although both the House and Senate passed a final NDAA in late September, the president vetoed the bill because it authorized defense spending above the caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2013 without Congress having reached an agreement over similar funding increases for non-defense spending. While it was unclear whether Congress could muster the votes to override the veto, the budget agreement, which raises defense and non-defense spending equally for the next two years, removes the most significant reason for the president’s veto of the bill.

What remains unclear is what procedural steps Congress will take to push the bill across the finish line. Essentially, Congress has two choices. They can either move forward with a veto override vote, or the House and Senate can pass a revised conference report and resend it to the president for his expected signature. The second scenario is the most likely because it would allow Congress to adjust the funding levels to address a slight decrease in funding from the level that was included in the original version of the bill sent to the president. The revised version of the bill will still provide for an additional $25 billion in the defense base budget over the caps that were established in the 2013 Budget Control Act.