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APPROPRIATIONS MEMO: America’s National Security Requires a Government Funding Deal

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TO: INTERESTED PARTIES
FROM: CHAIR ROSA DELAURO AND DEFENSE SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR BETTY MCCOLLUM
DATE: JANUARY 11, 2022
RE: AMERICA’S NATIONAL SECURITY REQUIRES A GOVERNMENT FUNDING DEAL

OVERVIEW

Budget certainty is essential to the entire federal government, especially for our national security. Last year, House and Senate Democrats advanced legislation to fund the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2022 – with increases over last year’s funding. On November 2, we formally asked Republicans to present an offer of their own on government funding so we can negotiate and enact full-year funding for the Department of Defense and the rest of the federal government.

To date, both Senate and House Republicans have refused to negotiate – or even present an offer of their own. That intransigence forced Congress to pass an additional Continuing Resolution (CR) in December just to keep the lights on. As we move closer to the new February 18 deadline, some Republicans have disturbingly suggested forcing the Department of Defense to operate under a full-year CR. This approach would ignore current needs and have serious and harmful consequences on our national security.

To further explore this issue, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Chair McCollum, will hold a hearing on Wednesday examining the harmful impact of CRs on our military readiness. Witnesses, representing the Department of Defense and the Services (with their written testimonies linked here), will be Marine Corps Commandant General David H. Berger, Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Space Operations General John W. Raymond, Army Vice Chief of Staff General Joseph M. Martin, and Under Secretary of Defense and Comptroller Mike McCord.

IMPACT OF FULL YEAR CONTINUING RESOLUTION ON U.S. MILITARY READINESS  

Last month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a dire warning about the danger of a full-year CR:

“It would misalign billions of dollars in resources in a manner inconsistent with evolving threats and the national security landscape, which would erode the U.S. military advantage relative to China, impede our ability to innovate and modernize, degrade readiness, and hurt our people and their families.  And it would offer comfort to our enemies, disquiet to our allies, and unnecessary stress to our workforce.”

Three areas merit significant concern: modernization, military pay, and wasted spending.    

Modernization and Global Competitiveness:

  • A full-year CR would severely curtail the military’s transition to more modern, high quality tools such as hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity systems. This would impede our nation’s ability to innovate and modernize, at a time when rivals such as China and Russia are racing ahead.
  • A full-year CR would also jeopardize many of the millions of American jobs that are supported by the military.
  • The National Defense Industrial Association explained it well: “Our nation’s competitors face no similar challenges putting us at a competitive disadvantage, particularly with emerging technologies, and place our supply chains at increasing risk, something we cannot afford after the nearly two years of pandemic impacts.”

Bottom Line: A full-year Continuing Resolution will make America less safe as we confront dangerous threats around the world.

Military Pay:

  • A full-year CR would require the Services to curtail important personnel costs to provide a 2.7 percent pay increase to our troops which was signed into law by President Biden last year. These cuts could include limiting the number of new recruits and suspending change-of-station moves, which are critical to ensuring our servicemembers are stationed in the right places at the right time.
  • A full-year CR would also curtail the military’s ability to cover the health care needs of servicemembers and their families.

Bottom Line: A full-year Continuing Resolution hurts our servicemembers and their families.

Wasting Taxpayer Dollars:

  • A full-year CR would force the military to spend taxpayer dollars on platforms, systems and initiatives that are no longer necessary and lock the Department of Defense into previous spending levels. In the most egregious example, the Department of Defense would be directed to spend money on a war in Afghanistan that we are no longer fighting.
  • A full-year CR would also reduce the buying power of the Department of Defense and prevent it from focusing on programs and initiatives necessary to respond to evolving threats. As Secretary Austin has written: “Essentially, in terms of real dollars, a CR would represent a budget cut – and a significant one at that.

Bottom Line: A full-year Continuing Resolution misaligns resources and wastes taxpayer dollars, all while damaging our military readiness.

CONCLUSION

Democrats are ready and willing to work cooperatively with our colleagues to negotiate government funding legislation that will protect our nation, care for our veterans, and strengthen our communities and avoid the unnecessary and costly repercussions of a full-year CR.

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