WASHINGTON — Defense officials are rooting for the Senate to pass a massive two-year spending package this week, a measure that bumps up the Pentagon's spending power to $738 billion.
Last week, the House passed a bill that sets discretionary spending at about $1.37 trillion in fiscal 2020 and slightly higher in fiscal 2021. The agreement also suspends the U.S. borrowing limit for two years. The Senate is expected to approve the measure this week, and President Donald Trump has said he would sign it.
"Seven thirty-eight's a good number," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said when he was asked about the measure. "And I think to the degree we have predictability, to the degree that we can avoid C.R.s, those things allow us to plan and make more efficient use of our dollars. So I'm good with those dollars."
"No complaints," Esper added.
In March, the Pentagon requested $718 billion in its fiscal 2020 budget, a $33 billion – or about 5% – increase over what Congress enacted for fiscal 2019.
The current measure, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by Trump, would give the Pentagon a topline of $738 billion for fiscal year 2020. Congress has until October 1 to agree on the deal or negotiate a new one with the White House.
"We are moving in the right direction here in terms of investing in the force," Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said when asked by CNBC if the budget would be enough to equip and invest in service members.
"I would tell you with the precious money that Congress gives us, we have to be good stewards with it," he added. "In any endeavor that we have we have to make sure that we are staying on the cutting edge of technology, to make sure that we can see those threats first and understand those threats first and act on those threats first and then we can finish decisively."