House DoD Funding Plan Analysis

By Chauncey Goss   •

The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) had a busy May adopting both the Defense and the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs bills. The HAC-approved bills provide insight into the funding the Department of Defense (DoD) (051) accounts are likely to receive once the FY20 appropriations are finalized. Although the President and the House represent separate parties and although Democrats have historically argued that DoD spending reductions should be used to offset higher non-defense discretionary spending, Chart I shows that the President and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee are not far apart when it comes to Pentagon spending. 


One of the primary differences between the two is the treatment of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account funding which is exempt from the budget caps set by the Budget Control Act (BCA). The President’s budget attempts to keep base (non-OCO) funding within the existing legal caps. The HAC bills are based on the House Budget Committee-approved plan for DoD funding to exceed the BCA cap as part of a budget agreement. As a result, the President’s OCO request is $96 billion higher than the HAC mark and the HAC mark for base funding is $87 billion above the President’s request. With emergency funding removed, HAC and Trump totals differ by only $8.4 billion. Compared to FY19 enacted levels, the HAC-approved bills provide an increase of just over $18 billion (2.7%).

HAC Limits Transfer Authority

House Democrats are unhappy with the administration’s efforts to reprogram defense funding to assist with border wall construction. The bill reduces the Department’s General Transfer Authority from the $6.155 billion it had last year ($4.155 billion for base accounts and $2 billion for OCO) to a total authority of just $1.670 billion in FY20 ($1.170 billion for the base accounts and $500 million for OCO). That’s a 73% reduction. President Trump’s FY20 Budget requested a 57% increase in transfer authority to $9.668 billion.

Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI)

The Committee is concerned about DoD’s single vendor cloud strategy and points out that OMB’s “Cloud Smart” strategy recommendations call for a multi-vendor multi-cloud approach. The Committee notes that the Intelligence Community is pursuing a multi-vendor approach (led by the CIA). As a result, the Committee directs that no funds be obligated to migrate data and applications to the JEDI cloud until the Chief Information Officer (CIO) reports to the defense committees elaborating on DoD’s plan to transition to a multi-cloud environment.

Space Force

The HAC-approved bill opposes creation of a separate space force at this time although it is complimentary of DoD’s work on protecting and defending national space capabilities. The Committee notes DoD has the authority and the structure to make space a higher priority should it wish to do so without the creation of a stand-alone service.

Cyberspace Budget Justifications

The Committee has consistently asked the Department over the last few years to provide cyberspace budget activities justification documents and this year the Committee directs DoD to provide those documents within five days of the actual budget submission.

Defense Health

The HAC-approved bill provides $33.5 billion for the Defense Health Program which is $544 million lower than the 2019 enacted level and $465 million above the President’s request. The preponderance of funding ($31.4 billion) is for operation and maintenance, with procurement receiving $454 million and RDTE receiving $1.7 billion which is a $920 million increase above the request primarily for peer-reviewed directed medical research.