AIA chief urges congressional lawmakers to pass appropriations bills

By Georgina DiNardo / January 10, 2024 at 2:04 PM

The head of the Aerospace Industries Association sent a letter to congressional leaders today, calling on them to pass full-year appropriations bills for national security and defense.

Eric Fanning, president and CEO of AIA, addressed the letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

Fanning called on Congress to pass an appropriations package with “topline budget numbers for FY-24” that lawmakers announced on Jan. 7 and the “related side agreement on offsets and additional resources for non-defense programs.”

The aerospace and defense industry, Fanning said, needs consistent “demand signals” from the federal government.

“Unfortunately, with fiscal year 2024 (FY24) funding still in flux, our industry continues to face the harmful consequences of a broken budget process,” he said. “If this impasse is not resolved soon, the country could face severe damage to our defense posture and our ability to enhance aviation safety. The uncertainty could also hinder our progress in developing next-generation space technologies and in supporting a growing commercial space industry.”

The federal government is operating under continuing resolutions that run through Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. The CR covering the Pentagon expires Feb. 2.

By the time the CRs expire, DOD and non-defense agencies will have been operating under CRs for “roughly one-third of the fiscal year,” according to Fanning.

“We cannot ask them to shoulder further delays or additional short-term CRs,” he said.

Fanning laid out two possible scenarios that could occur if the government does not pass full-year appropriations bills soon.

One scenario details what would happen if Congress fails to pass a full-year appropriations bill for the entire government by April 30. In that situation, the White House Office of Management and Budget is required to impose a “sequestration order” which gives agencies a budget that is 1% lower than FY-23. This scenario results in defense spending needing to be cut by $36.5 billion, causing many programs to fail due to lack of funding.

The second of Fanning’s scenarios outlines what he believes will happen if Congress introduces a CR for the entire year, something that has never been done before. This scenario ends with cutting DOD spending by $28 billion below its request, eliminating $5.8 billion for military personnel funding, causing significant health care challenges.

“The current topline agreement would resolve this impasse, provide modest increases to help agencies address urgent priorities and inflationary increases, avoid the worst effects of deep, across-the-board reductions, and allow Congress to turn its attention to the fiscal year 2025 budget, which is due in February,” Fanning said. “We urge you to move these bills as quickly as possible under the framework announced on January 7, 2024.”