Every fall there is suspense on Capitol Hill relating to the Congressional agenda. Will Congress fund federal agencies in time to avoid a government shutdown? Which pieces of major legislation will pass? It is always a time of uncertainty.
However, there seems to be one constant that almost always receives bipartisan, bicameral support. Since 1961, Congress has passed an annual National Defense Authorization Act, or “NDAA.” The NDAA is supposed to be enacted prior to the end of the fiscal year on September 30. But this rarely happens. Last year, President Trump signed the annual NDAA on August 13, which is the earliest enactment date for the annual bill since 1977. The last time NDAA had been signed into law before September 30 was in 1997. The chart below shows the dates of enactment since that time.
A House-Senate conference committee is currently working out the details of this year’s NDAA. Unresolved issues relate to lower yield nuclear weapons; providing funds to build a border wall; prisoners at Guantanamo Bay; conditions on military actions relating to Iran, Syria, and Yemen; military service for transgender individuals; and various arms export issues.
When will it become law? Today might be a good day to start your office pool.