Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee introduced a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown, which assumes there will be no final agreement on a budget or on appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The House bill provides discretionary government funding through Dec. 15, or the first two-and-a-half months of FY 2014. The committee decided that, rather than give either the president or Rep. Paul Ryan what he asked for, it would get real: fund defense and the rest of the government at roughly the same level for the next three months as they have been funded for the past year. In other words, fund them at the post-sequestration level. My colleague Russell Rumbaugh calls this “a huge deal.”
The resolution — which is now being contested within the Republican majority in the House — has yet to be voted on. But it confirms an ongoing message: Defense budgets are going down, sequester or no sequester. If the Pentagon cannot count on more money from the Republican House than it got after the sequester this year, there is no “get well” point in the visible future. Trust me, the “defending defense” crowd isn’t going to be any happier when the Senate takes its stand on a continuing resolution. It is time for the Pentagon to think about how to manage with funds that are no more than what the Budget Control Act projected over the next 10 years.
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