Pentagon Prepared to Manage Impacts of a Shorter-Term Continuing Resolution

Pentagon Prepared to Manage Impacts of a Shorter-Term Continuing Resolution

The stopgap continuing resolution (CR) expected to be approved by Congress before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30 will affect some defense contract awards, but DOD will be able to manage the impacts as long as full-year appropriations bills are passed in the coming weeks, National Defense Magazine reported.

“There are programs that will be affected and some of those include our ability to move forward with contracts that should be issued and … some of the modernization efforts we’re putting forward,” said Jonathon Huffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, during a Pentagon briefing late last week.

In August Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, a two-year fiscal deal that increased defense spending caps for FY 2020 and FY 2021 and set toplines of $738 billion and $740.5 billion.

However, Congress has yet to pass a defense appropriations bill or other major appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020, which begins Oct. 1. The House and the Senate in the coming days are expected to vote on a continuing resolution, or CR, to avoid a government shutdown. The CR would run through Nov. 21, by which point Congress would need to pass another funding measure to keep the government open.

“If it’s kept within, you know, a few weeks to a little bit more than that, it is something we can manage and work through,” Hoffman said. “But once we start getting into months and quarters, the impact grows exponentially and it becomes more difficult to recover from those impacts.”

The Pentagon had yet to provide a list of acquisition programs that will be affected by the CR that Congress is expected to pass, according to the report.

Continuing resolutions are problematic for the Pentagon because they generally freeze spending at the levels of the previous fiscal year and prevent new-start programs.

An extended CR would hinder the momentum of the readiness and modernization gains the U.S. military has achieved over the past two years, Hoffman warned.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been banging the drum on Capitol Hill and prodding lawmakers to pass full-year spending bills.

“Throughout this week, Secretary Esper has met with various members of Congress from the House and Senate,” Hoffman said. “In those meetings … he’s stressed the importance of Congress passing an FY 2020 appropriations bill as quickly as possible.”

Army photo by Staff Sgt. Austin Thomas

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