Pentagon Postpones Budget Rollout to March

Pentagon Postpones Budget Rollout to March

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The Pentagon is set to release its FY 2020 budget on March 12, six weeks later than expected.

The delay technically violates a 1990 law requiring the president's budget to be submitted no later than the first Monday in February, but there's no penalty for being late. Previous administrations of both parties have delivered budgets late.

The delay increases the likelihood of a continuing resolution, a stopgap spending measure, later this year, as lawmakers will have less time to work on the legislation.

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The 35-day government shutdown was cited as one of the reasons for the delay. That means the March 12 release could be moved again if another shutdown occurs once temporary funding for about a quarter of the federal workforce expires on Feb. 15.

Such a funding lapse would mean Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps members, as well as some U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps members working with unfunded agencies, again would report for duty without pay.

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Reports of what to expect in the administration's defense budget request have varied anywhere between $700 billion and $750 billion, although the administration has signaled it will be closer to the latter figure.

A six-week delay in submitting the budget adds to an already full plate for Congress. Lawmakers will have to strike a new budget deal by the end of the year to avoid returning to sequester spending levels. Those levels were first established in a 2011 deficit reduction law. Absent a new agreement, the Defense Department would face automatic cuts of almost $54 billion in 2020.