Senate Appropriators Agree to Bypass Spending Limits, Add $8 Billion for Defense

A U.S. senator shakes hands with the secretary of defense at a congressional hearing

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks with Senator Patty Murray and Sentaor Susan Collins at the conclusion of testimony at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on May 16, 2023. – Department of Defense

The leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee reached an agreement to add $8 billion to the FY24 defense budget, using emergency spending authority to bypass spending limits put in place by the recent debt ceiling agreement.

The debt agreement suspends the debt limit in exchange for capping federal spending over the next two years. National security spending would be limited to the president’s requested level of $886 billion in FY25 and $895 billion in FY25. As soon as the agreement was reached, lawmakers began discussing options for bypassing their own spending limits to bolster the defense budget. The simplest option is to use an emergency supplemental spending bill, which wouldn’t be subject to the spending caps.

That option is exactly what Senate appropriators have done. During opening remarks at a recent budget markup of several federal spending bills, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, outlined plans to increase federal discretionary spending by $13.7 billion above the caps, including $8 billion for defense and $5.7 billion for non-defense.

“Members on both sides of the aisle—on and off committee—have voiced serious, bipartisan concerns about the cuts in the debt ceiling deal to vital non-defense programs and the caps it imposes on defense spending,” Murray said. “Vice Chair [Susan] Collins and I have discussed how best to address these concerns, and we have agreed to make use of additional emergency appropriations—just as we do every year, and is fully allowed under the debt ceiling deal—to address in a bipartisan way some of the pressing challenges our nation faces.”

The committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 27, for its markup of the FY24 defense appropriations bill.

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its version of the bill in June, and the House bill falls in line with the spending limits established by the deficit agreement.

About Shaun McDougall

As editor of International Military Markets, North America, Shaun has cultivated a deep understanding of the vast defense markets in the United States and Canada. Shaun's perspective on defense procurement and budget issues has been cited in a variety of defense periodicals, including Defense News and National Defense Magazine. Further, Shaun played an integral role in the development of Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast product, which offers an unprecedented level of insight into the Pentagon's acquisition budget. In addition to providing original analytical content for the U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, Shaun oversees an internal defense budget forecasting process involving Forecast International's team of skilled systems analysts following release of the DoD's annual budget request. Shaun is also in charge of managing Forecast International's Weapons Inventory database.

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