Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is urging Congress to pass a funding bill for the military before the year is over, and warning that a failure to do so would harm national security.
Austin sent letters to Democratic leaders making his case for acting as soon as possible. In his letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Austin said the Pentagon “once again faces the threat of an extended continuing resolution (CR) to fund our programs and operations into the new year.” Calling for the passage of a full-year funding bill by the end of 2022, Austin said “failure to do so will result in significant harm to our people and our programs and would cause harm to our national security and our competitiveness.”
Another continuing resolution would freeze defense spending at last year’s levels, providing the Pentagon with “at least $3 billion per month below the level President Biden requested” for 2023, Austin said. Additionally, the failure to provide full funding could cause delays in signing new contracts, hampering long-term planning.
“The CR costs us time as well as money, and money can't buy back time, especially for lost training events,” Austin wrote. “Under the CR, Congress prohibits the military from commencing new initiatives, such as those requested by our theater commanders in the Indo-Pacific and around the world or in support of Service members and their families at home.”
More broadly, Austin criticized Congress for its inability to provide defense funding in a reliable manner. “We must break this pattern of extensive inaction,” he wrote. “We can’t outcompete China with our hands tied behind our backs three, four, five or six months of every fiscal year.”
The bottom line: Austin made it clear that defense leaders view funding delays as harmful – and that Congress has the means to end those delays. “I strongly urge you to act decisively – now – to meet America's needs and support our forces who support all of us, by immediately reaching a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on full-year 2023 appropriations for DoD and all agencies,” he wrote. “As I have said before, it's not only the right thing to do, it's the best thing you can do for our Nation's defense.”