With congressional gridlock making it more likely that the Pentagon will receive the same amount of funding this year as last year, the Navy’s top officer is throttling up the pressure to change course.
Congress has yet to pass a spending bill for fiscal year 2011, instead carrying over funding from the previous year in a continuing resolution. Lawmakers have until March 4 to either approve a new spending bill or pass another continuing resolution, and with just three weeks of legislative action on the calendar, Democrats are beginning to raise the specter of a government shutdown.
Echoing recent comments made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who called a continuing resolution a “crisis on my doorstep,” Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, told POLITICO in an interview that a continuing resolution would threaten some of the very things that help lawmakers get reelected — jobs across the country, the Navy’s wartime operations and the lives of sailors and their families.
But those who are focused on containing the ballooning deficit are urging Congress to stand strong in the face of pressure from the Pentagon brass.
A continuing resolution, representing a $23 billion cut to the Pentagon’s budget request for 2011, is a good first step to imposing fiscal discipline, Gordon Adams, a professor at American University, writes on The Stimson Center’s blog, The Will and the Wallet.
“If DoD built its FY 2011 budget in a ‘culture of spending,’ there is no doubt that it was not disciplined enough,” Adams writes. “Equally, imposing that discipline in the middle of the fiscal year, after everybody has started managing as if ‘spending’ were the order of the day, is a tough challenge. That’s what the senior leadership and management at the top of the department is paid to handle.”
For now, Roughead is hoping to avoid the challenge by pointing out the pain a continuing resolution would cause the Navy.
More specifically, the continuing resolution, which has already run longer than most, reduces the Navy’s budget below what it had requested by $5.7 billion. The lion’s share of that reduction — $4.6 billion — would impact the Navy’s operation and maintenance accounts.
Source:Politico, Feb. 7,2011;