With Congress appearing ready to consider a long-term continuing resolution (CR) well into next year (possibly until May 2017), Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned of the detrimental effects on U.S. national security of such action.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Carter called the prospect of operating under a CR for nearly two-thirds of the fiscal year “unprecedented and unacceptable.” He stressed that DoD has never operated under a long-term CR during a transition to a new administration.
The longer the length of the CR the more damage will be done to DoD’s capabilities because DoD will be “locked into last year’s budget and last year’s priorities,” Carter said. He cited the most harm will be resulting shortfalls in operations and munitions accounts, especially those accounts funding counterterrorism operations.
Carter emphasized that operating under a CR means that DOD will not have the authority to begin new programs, increase program production rates, or start multi-year procurement projects. He said in FY2017 DOD will need 57 new starts and 87 increases in program production rates. Delaying these actions during a CR would undercut important programs (e.g., KC-46 Tanker, helicopter buys, and replacement of the Ohio submarine).
Carter said if Congress can’t complete action on the FY2017 DoD appropriations bill by the time the current CR runs out on December 9, it should at least keep the CR as short as possible to allow time to finish the bill.