The first day of October represents more than just the herald for the coming of autumn: It marks the start of the new fiscal year.
Why does that matter to the uniformed services and veteran communities? In other words, what is the significance of Oct. 1 to MOAA members?
Without the necessary authorizations and appropriations, federal agencies can’t operate properly. An authorization bill establishes new policies and programs for a federal agency and can reauthorize programs set to expire, while appropriations provide the funding for those authorizations.
Until Congress passes those bills, federal agencies overseeing the eight uniformed services lack the authorizations or funding needed for the annual military pay raise, quality health care coverage, and quality-of-life programs for servicemembers and their families, along with many other support programs and benefits necessary for an all-volunteer force.
Passing authorization and appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year has been a recurring challenge. The last year Congress and the White House enacted the necessary legislation on time to fully fund the government for the upcoming fiscal year was for FY 1997.
With the start of FY 2023 upon us, followed by midterm elections, it’s very likely the government will again miss the mark with its budget process. There is a little more time for Congress to approve authorizations, up to the end of the calendar year.
Here’s where the process now stands:
FY 2023 Authorizations: For MOAA’s purposes, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is the most critical of these bills, as it affects DoD policies and programs. The House passed its version of the NDAA on July 14 by a vote of 329-101. The Senate has yet to pass its version.
FY 2023 Appropriations: Neither the House nor the Senate have passed all 12 of the appropriations bills that make up the federal budget. Of particular interest to MOAA are the defense appropriations bill, which has jurisdiction over the budget for DoD, and the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) appropriations bill, which sets the funding for military construction and the VA.
Missing the Oct. 1 deadline for authorizations will have tangible consequences: delayed implementation of new programs, inability for DoD and other federal agencies to modify or discontinue existing programs, and agency leaders beginning FY 2023 with the challenge of funding newly legislated increases on the previous year’s budget.
If Congress and the White House do not enact all 12 appropriation bills by Oct. 1, it could result in a government shutdown. A more likely, and less stark, result would be the passage of a continuing resolution (CR), legislation to fund federal agencies so they can continue operating until the full appropriations process is finished.
A CR would provide funding to the federal government at last year’s spending levels, and could include add-ons such as support for the war in Ukraine or necessary funds for other programs throughout the government.
For a quarter of a century, Congress and the White House have failed to enact the necessary legislation to fully fund the federal government on time, and the ones who ultimately suffer the most are servicemembers, veterans, survivors, and their families.
MOAA will continue to engage with members of Congress to ensure the needs of the uniformed services and veteran communities are fulfilled now and into the following year.
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