The aerospace and defense industry, including those in the defense trade press, have since late evening of November 6, 2018 been wrestling with the implications of the midterm elections for U.S. defense policy and spending over the next two years. Quite frankly, it is too early to say with certainty. As Leo Rosten, the famous political scientist and humorist, once said, “Some things are so unexpected that no one is prepared for them.” That statement seems an appropriate caution given the current tumult of U.S. domestic politics.
That caution given, we can offer a couple, dare we say, steadfast observations about what is likely to be “normal” even given change to control of the House:
- The President retains significant power to determine national security policy, and often enjoys first-mover advantage in this area; continuity, rather than change, will likely be the broad theme.
- Congress has passed an annual National Defense Authorization Act for 58 consecutive years, and we expect them to do so again. This remains a must-pass piece of legislation, including policy issues in the jurisdiction of other committees (for example, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act that governs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States was included in last year’s defense bill).
But with the change in control of the House, we do expect a more contentious and potentially drawn out debate regarding key defense policy priorities of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans.
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