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Ukraine aid and stealth bombers: Pentagon lays out consequences if Congress can’t pass a budget deal

Operating below a short-term spending invoice is nothing new to the Pentagon, which has seen CRs 13 out of the final 14 years. Every 12 months, DoD leaders warn that the stopgap measure — which limits funding to the earlier 12 months’s ranges and bars the division from beginning most new applications — erodes navy readiness and places key applications in danger. It’s a frequent tactic to strain lawmakers to come back to an settlement earlier than any important harm is completed, and it’s usually profitable.

But this 12 months is totally different, officers mentioned: An extended, one-year CR can be a main disaster for DoD.

“I still have trouble believing that a full-year CR would be doable for us. It’s a great threat, great threat,” DoD Comptroller Michael McCord mentioned on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday. “It would be a bad reality.”

The messaging mirrors Austin’s letter despatched to congressional leaders and appropriators on Sunday, in a uncommon rebuke.

“We can’t outcompete China with our hands tied behind our back three, four, five or six months of every fiscal year,” he mentioned within the letter, which was first reported by POLITICO.

Congress faces a Dec. 16 deadline to strike a deal on full-year funding however is extensively anticipated to pass a short-term funding patch to proceed negotiations. After the short-term patch runs out, a yearlong CR is a risk if appropriators can’t agree on a long-term spending invoice. This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mentioned a full-year persevering with decision is feasible, calling it a “last resort”.

McCord mentioned he’s “somewhat optimistic” that lawmakers can get an omnibus invoice carried out by the tip of the 12 months, however he’s involved about the potential for a yearlong CR as a result of he has not heard that appropriators have reached a framework settlement but.

Top Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have mentioned they need to finalize a package deal to fund the federal authorities within the ultimate weeks of the congressional session this month slightly than punt it to subsequent 12 months, when a divided Congress won’t be capable of forge an settlement.

Bipartisan protection coverage laws set for a vote within the House subsequent week endorses a $45 billion improve to Biden’s Pentagon budget — which means that below a long-term CR, DoD loses that improve along with the $29 billion shortfall.

In the occasion of a yearlong CR, McCord mentioned he would attempt to get reduction by asking Congress for “very substantial, possibly unprecedented ability to move money around.” More seemingly, DoD will submit a record of “anomalies” — vital applications that may be exempted from the CR.

In that case, McCord mentioned his prime priorities can be the nuclear triad, notably the B-21, hypersonic applications, and doubtlessly a multiyear contract for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. In addition, DoD must “look hard” at industrial base considerations for munitions wanted for the Ukraine battle and a potential Indo-Pacific contingency, he mentioned.

The record of warnings

A full-year CR would deny almost $5 billion in funding to modernize the nuclear triad, the paperwork say, at a time when China is racing to increase its personal arsenal.

It would halt procurement of the brand new B-21 Raider simply because the Pentagon is scheduled to maneuver from the analysis and improvement stage to procurement. The Air Force’s fiscal 2023 budget request requires spending $1.8 billion on B-21 procurement; below a year-long CR, that funding can be restricted to simply $108 million, stopping the shift to the following stage.

To a lot fanfare, Austin unveiled the B-21 in a ceremony at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif., plant on Friday, and the aircraft is anticipated to begin flying subsequent 12 months.

A yearlong CR would additionally halt two building merchandise that can help the brand new bomber, together with help and upkeep amenities on the B-21’s most important working middle at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, funding cuts to advance purchases for the brand new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine would delay building for 3 deliberate boats — SSBNs 827 by means of 830 — forcing the Navy to overlook its deadline to start operations in fiscal 2031. The Columbia class requires $2.4 billion by Jan. 16, 2023, however below a CR funds keep on the fiscal 2022 stage of $1.8 billion.

Missing this deadline would create a hole between when the Ohio-class submarines retire and the brand new submarines come on-line as a result of “there is no schedule margin left,” in response to the paperwork.

Senior DoD officers are additionally involved that a yearlong CR may halt navy aid to Ukraine that comes from the division’s base budget, together with changing munitions expended within the struggle. The bulk of the funding for Ukraine has been by means of supplemental funding payments, which may very well be hooked up to a CR. But if lawmakers can’t get a deal on a funding invoice or a Ukraine supplemental, DoD will run out of cash for Kyiv within the spring, McCord mentioned.

“Ukraine is in a kinetic fight, and we are their No. 1 helper,” McCord mentioned. “If they run out of ammo, they’re in a bad place.”

A yearlong CR may additionally delay industrial base enhancements for a number of key programs, together with the Abrams tank and the M777 towed howitzer, which is among the many weapons the U.S. navy is donating to Ukraine.

A yearlong CR would additionally scale back funding for the Navy’s shipbuilding initiatives by $1.4 billion, inflicting delays, price will increase and work stoppages for the brand new provider, the Enterprise. The lower would delay the beginning of building on the brand new Virginia-class submarine and the nuclear refueling of the USS Harry S. Truman, which is critical for it to finish its 50-year service life.

Since CRs additionally prohibit the beginning of recent multiyear procurement contracts, the situation would stop the Navy from awarding such a contract for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

The largest shortfall can be in navy personnel ($6.8 billion), operation and upkeep ($13.8 billion), and analysis, improvement, check and analysis ($10.7 billion). Family housing shall be lower by $86 million, or 7.6 p.c. Military members and DoD civilians can be denied a promised 4.6 p.c pay increase and a rise to primary housing allowances. There may be a threat of civilian furloughs.

Military building accounts can be funded at increased ranges than requested, as a result of the administration’s fiscal 2022 budget request for that account was increased than the one for fiscal 2023. But that extra $3.2 billion wouldn’t be usable due to the CR restrictions to new initiatives.

A full-year CR would additionally stop the navy from starting 97 main building and housing initiatives, together with the Army Child Development Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana.

In order to remain inside funding ranges required by the CR, the navy must take actions that may considerably impede readiness, the record says. For instance, the Pentagon would wish to cease providing new enlistment and reenlistment bonuses at a time when recruiting is at an all-time low, leading to fewer folks coming besides camp and increased recruiting and coaching prices.

Finally, a yearlong CR would derail plans to construct sure new weapons programs, together with limiting manufacturing will increase for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile and Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range. It additionally impedes the event of recent hypersonic weapons, together with the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon.

Altogether, a yearlong CR would halt 192 new efforts and 49 procurement charge will increase.

Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.

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