NEW: Secretary of Defense, Top Pentagon Leadership Sound Alarm That a Year-long CR Would Jeopardize Our National Defense
In new letters to top Senate Appropriations leaders, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Army, Navy, and Air Force service secretaries detail the harm of a full-year continuing resolution for DoD
ICYMI: Chair Murray Warns of Devastating Implications of a Full-Year CR – MORE HERE
ICYMI: Vice Chair Collins Calls for Action on Appropriations, Full-Year Defense Funding Bills – MORE HERE
Washington, D.C. — In new letters to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME), Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and our nation’s top defense leaders detailed how a first-ever full-year continuing resolution (CR) for the Department of Defense would have severe repercussions for our national defense strategy, servicemembers and their families, and our military readiness.
The five separate letters from Secretary Austin, Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown Jr. come ahead of the next, fast-approaching funding deadlines set for January 19 and February 2.
Senator Murray has repeatedly emphasized the need for Congress to begin conferencing and passing bipartisan, full-year appropriations bills that move our country forward, not back—and she has warned of the devastating harms a full-year CR would cause. In a floor speech last week, she stated that:
“A date-change, full-year CR … would lock in outdated spending plans and devastating across-the-board cuts while locking all of us out of any kind of thoughtful decision-making process for our nation’s future, all of which should be unacceptable to everyone here…. I think we all understand now is a dangerous time to signal America’s global leadership is faltering, but that is exactly the message a year-long CR will send: a year of America’s military falling behind and a year of our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts falling behind.”
Senator Collins has consistently pushed for Congress to complete action on its annual appropriations bills. In November, she took to the Senate floor to urge action on the Senate committee-passed bills and outline the dangers of a year-long CR.
“Each day that the Department of Defense operates under a temporary funding measure—rather than its full-year appropriations bill—important national security investments remain on hold… At a time when China’s navy is already at least 80 ships larger than our own, the Committee-approved bill includes record investments—more than $33 billion—in Navy shipbuilding… Our nation’s security and our servicemen and women deserve better than a year-long CR. Let’s get our work done and pass the full-year funding bills.”
In his letter this week, Defense Secretary Austin noted that the Department of Defense (DoD) has never operated under a full-year CR and stated:
“A year-long CR would misalign billions of dollars, subject Service members and their families to unnecessary stress, damage our readiness, and impede our ability to react to emergent events.”
Under a full-year CR, our nation’s defense programs would receive at least $26.6 billion (3%) less than the $886.3 billion topline agreed to under the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) and authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024. Under the Fiscal Responsibility Act’s backstop provision in Section 102, on January 1, the cap for defense will be lowered from $886.3 billion to $849.8 billion (a 1% cut from the FY23 funding level), potentially resulting in a cut of $36.6 billion (4.1%) relative to the topline agreed to under the FRA.
LETTER FROM DEFENSE SECRETARY LLOYD J. AUSTIN III
December 12, 2023
Key excerpts from Secretary Austin’s letter:
“The Department has never operated under a year-long CR.”
“Congress failing to agree on regular appropriations legislation for the remainder of FY2024 would have severe repercussions on our readiness and ability to execute the National Defense Strategy.”
“A year-long CR would set us behind in meeting our pacing challenge highlighted in our National Defense Strategy—the People’s Republic of China (PRC). … Our ability to execute our strategy is contingent upon our ability to innovate and modernize to meet this challenge, which cannot happen under a CR.”
Secretary Austin noted that if the FRA’s penalty provision were triggered, “this would mean an additional cut of approximately $10 billion, which we would be forced to implement with less than half the [fiscal year] remaining.”
Among much else, Secretary Austin warned that a full-year CR would:
- Require DoD to absorb an estimated $5.8 billion cut to military personnel accounts, which would “exacerbate the already serious recruiting challenges that the Department is facing” and jeopardize DoD’s investments in taking care of servicemembers and their families.
- Delay modernization of our nuclear triad.
- Prevent 156 new start efforts and 180 production rate increases.
- Halt 129 new construction and housing projects from proceeding as planned—for quality of life facilities, research facilities, and projects critical to the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.
Read Secretary Austin’s full letter HERE.
LETTER FROM CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHARLES Q. BROWN JR.
November 29, 2023
Key excerpts from Chairman Brown’s letter:
“ln addition to the critical need for Congress to take action to support our allies and partners by passing the President's national security supplemental funding request, the single greatest thing that Congress can do to enable the Department to execute our strategy is to enact a full-year appropriation.”
“A year-long CR would prevent the DoD from executing numerous multi-year procurement contracts that are critical to meeting our requirements in the Indo-Pacific; delay or deny investments in important modernization projects; and create a significant shortfall in personnel funding.”
“Thousands of programs will be impacted with the most devastating impacts to our national defense being to personnel, nuclear triad modernization, shipbuilding and ship maintenance, munitions production and replenishment, and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command priorities.”
“Under a year-long CR, 30 percent of the funding in the Navy shipbuilding budget request could not be spent and only one of two requested Virginia class submarines could be awarded.”
Among other things, Chairman Brown warned that a full-year CR would:
- Force DoD to slow recruiting and delay servicemember moves to offset the costs of the 5.2% pay raise for the military.
- Jeopardize $1.3 billion in investments critical to DoD’s Indo-Pacific posture—including forward basing, sensor-to-shooter capabilities, long-range radars, hypersonic defense, and investments in classified capabilities.
Read Chairman Brown’s full letter HERE.
LETTER FROM ARMY SECRETARY CHRISTINE E. WORMUTH
December 12, 2023
Key excerpts from Secretary Wormuth’s letter:
“The significant consequences for our recruiting efforts, acquisition portfolio, and military construction program would diminish the Army’s ability to achieve its mission in support of the National Defense Strategy, including by taking care of our people.”
“While the Army and its Soldiers will always show up to protect our nation, a full-year CR would severely constrain our ability to achieve our mission while making crucial investments in future capabilities. With our country facing the most dangerous security environment in decades, we need to avoid the harm a year-long CR would inflict on our force.”
Among other things, Secretary Wormuth warned that a full-year CR would:
- Constrain the Army’s recruiting efforts.
- Delay 35 housing projects—including five barracks and four family housing projects.
- Set back acquisition efforts in the long-range fires portfolio—which is critical in the Pacific theater.
- Postpone procurement needed for future production of the Abrams tank.
- Delay eight construction and modernization projects vital to preserving and improving the Army’s defense industrial base to build weapons, explosives, and ammunitions.
Read Secretary Wormuth’s full letter HERE.
LETTER FROM NAVY SECRETARY CARLOS DEL TORO
December 8, 2023
Key excerpts from Secretary Del Toro’s letter:
“I write to express my deepest concern that the Department has yet to receive an appropriations funding bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, and is facing the threat of operating under a year-long Continuing Resolution (CR) with potential for sequestration.”
“Today, our Sailors and Marines are postured in the eastern Mediterranean, through the Red Sea, and across in the Indo-Pacific to deter and respond to acts of aggression from Russia, Iranian-backed terrorist groups, and the Communist Chinese Party. Their ability to maintain a forward U.S. presence without interruption, and to maintain a competitive advantage over our adversaries depends upon Congress’ approval of the Department’s … budget request.”
Among other things, Secretary Del Toro warned that a full-year CR would:
- Result in an immediate $15.2 billion (5.9%) setback for the Navy-Marine Corps, which would grow to a $28 billion shortfall due to misalignment of funding.
- Create hardships for military families and lower morale across the force by providing $2.2 billion less for servicemember pay, housing, and moving costs, and impede initiatives to improve quality of life and expand mental health resources.
- Immediately degrade the Navy’s ability to operate ships and aircraft by forcing a $4.6 billion reduction in operation and maintenance.
- Preclude construction of one Virginia class submarine, one frigate, and two Landing craft.
- Slow progress on modernization efforts to make the Marine Corps “a more agile, efficient, and technologically advanced force able to deter and defeat forces across the Pacific island chains.”
- Cancel or postpone construction of 30 projects—including three Child Development Centers.
Read Secretary Del Toro’s full letter HERE.
LETTER FROM AIR FORCE SECRETARY FRANK KENDALL
November 30, 2023
Key excerpts from Secretary Kendall’s letter:
“The one thing we cannot buy back with any amount of funding is time. The longer the DAF operates under any CR, the more time our pacing challenges has to gain advantage and further increases their ability to inflict unacceptable levels of destruction against our people and capability.”
“Any length of CR impacts DAF readiness, hinders acceleration of the U.S. Space Force, delays military construction projects, reduces aircraft availability, and curbs modernization in our race for technological superiority.”
Among other things, Secretary Kendall warned that a full-year CR would:
- Reduce the Department of the Air Force’s buying power by as much as $13 billion.
- Cut the Department of the Air Force’s resources (excluding military personnel accounts) by 8% if sequestration is also triggered under the FRA.
- Halts 89 new starts and 19 specific initiatives totaling nearly $5 billion to counter the People’s Republic of China.
- Cancels $2.8 billion for the Space Force for assets that are critical to all the military services' ability to fight and compete in a contested war environment.
Read Secretary Kendall’s full letter HERE.
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