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Without 2020 budget, US military will see delayed hiring, maintenance on 14 warships & 100+ programs

Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. (Pixabay/Released)
November 18, 2019

Lawmakers are eyeing stopgap spending options to prevent or delay a potential government shutdown but the military may see freezes on key spending items until Congress reaches a full budget agreement for 2020.

A continuing resolution (CR) may keep the government running, but it will freeze spending at current levels. According to Forbes, a spending freeze brought on by a CR would block Trump administration plans for continued defense buildups in the new fiscal year.

Republican members of the Budget, Armed Services and Appropriations committees issued a report on their concerns for defense funding under a continuing resolution. A CR would stall a 14 percent planned increase in weapons appropriations and keep the defense spending levels set for the 2019 fiscal year. Maintenance of existing weapons systems would also be affected.

Army figures determined a CR would bar 29 new procurement programs and stall ongoing work on 37 existing programs. A CR would also halt research for future programs.

The Air Force would also be unable to bring on new pilots during the CR, leaving them unable to address a nearly 2,000-pilot shortage. Navy officials believe they will also have to wait until a full budget to carry out maintenance on 14 of their warships.

The House is expected to pass a CR to delay a potential government shutdown from Nov. 22 until Dec. 20. according to The Hill. A full budget deal may allow for the expansion of government programs, including those defense appropriations likely to be stalled by a CR.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared to reach a tentative agreement to put off wall spending discussions, during a Thursday meeting with appropriators. Lawmakers will reportedly focus on bringing a deal on spending by Nov. 20.

“We prefer to not have a continuing resolution. So we have to make some decisions as we go forward,” Pelosi said on Thursday.

Mnuchin said, “We have no intention of having a shutdown. I think everybody intends to keep the government open.”

By contrast, some fiscal conservatives reportedly favor a CR for its spending freeze and see it as a way to limit the expanding U.S. debt, which reached $23 trillion this month. White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly floated the idea of a yearlong CR; a proposal that has loomed over ongoing budget negotiations.

Over the summer, Democrat and Republican lawmakers agreed on a budget deal to set a $1.3 trillion cap on spending. The deal added $322 billion in spending over the previous year, but lawmakers remain divided on how wall funding will factor in when lawmakers attempt to divide their budget along the 12 separate spending bills.

Wall funding has also been a sticking point in past government shutdown fights. Last year, the government saw a 35-day partial shutdown over the border wall. Defense funding was ultimately reallocated to wall funding through a February national emergency declaration by President Donald Trump. The order was part of an effort to overcome the wall debate and end a 35-day partial government shutdown.