President Donald Trump released his 2021 budget request in February, nearly eight months before the start of the next fiscal year, and lawmakers have already agreed on a defense topline of $740.5 billion. Nevertheless, it's still unlikely that Congress will pass appropriations before Oct. 1, experts say.
They expect fiscal year 2021 to begin with a continuing resolution, which freezes funding at previous fiscal year levels and prevents new-start programs.
"Hypothetically, based on the fact that we have a budget deal ... there should be no CR," said Seamus Daniels, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "But as we saw last year [with] the border wall funding and other debates ... they delayed the issue."
Fiscal year 2020 began with two continuing resolutions lasting a total of 81 days, he noted during a press briefing. For 2021, the administration requested $2 billion for additional border wall construction.
Todd Harrison, another CSIS budget guru, said recent history doesn't yield optimism.
"There's no good reason this year" for lawmakers to fail to pass a budget on time, he said. "They already have a budget deal. They know where the top line is. They ought to be able to work through it. [But] I think odds are they probably push this until the lame duck session after the election and try to finish it up then."
Mark Cancian, senior adviser for the...