Secretary of Defense warns Congress that continuing resolutions cost Pentagon millions

Austin warns that CRs imperil procurement and research, two areas important to Wright-Patt

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has warned Congress again that the habit of “continuing resolution” spending harms Pentagon priorities — and in particular, harms areas of spending crucial to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the heart of Air Force logistics and procurement.

“Under the CR (continuing resolution), the progress funded by our FY (fiscal year) 23 research and development budget — the largest requested in history — cannot take place,” Austin wrote in a new letter to congressional leaders. “And our FY 23 procurement request – also the largest requested in history – cannot be fully executed.”

Continuing resolutions are temporary spending measures that let federal government funding continue, while final full-year budgets are being shaped, a process that usually takes months and is usually well delayed. The federal government’s fiscal year starts on the first day of October.

The resolutions — often called simply “CRs” — prevent government shutdowns but they don’t permit a nimble shift in priorities or emphasis.

Austin sent his letter to party leaders in the House and Senate, national reports say.

The warning from Austin is not new. Last year, he said CRs “misalign billions of dollars in resources in a manner inconsistent with evolving threats and the national security landscape.”

“Essentially, in terms of real dollars, a CR would represent a budget cut — and a significant one at that,” Austin said in December 2021.

Dayton’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (who sits on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces) in 2018 introduced the “It’s About Time Act” to change the government funding deadline from October 1 to January 1.

“I have long opposed continuing resolutions due to their adverse impacts on our military readiness capabilities,” Turner said Tuesday. “The Department of Defense must receive predictable and robust funding as the United States faces growing national security threats from our adversaries. Congress owes the men and women at Wright-Patterson and those stationed around the world uninterrupted support as they execute their critical missions.”

“There is no reason the fiscal year should start on Oct. 1 other than Congress has previously said so,” the Republican congressman said in 2018 when he introduced the act. “This has done unbelievable damage to the Department of Defense because Congress clearly cannot manage to pass spending bills by our current deadlines.”

Congress’ latest budget extension is set to expire Dec. 16.

Austin’s letter does not mention Wright-Patterson specifically. But the base of 32,000 military and civilian employees — the largest employer in one location in the state of Ohio — is home to both Air Force Materiel Command, the command that equips the Air Force, and Air Force Research Laboratory, which conducts the scientific and technical research that provides weapons and equipment for both the Air Force and the Space Force.

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