Budget on 'unsustainable course,' Sen. King tells SNA

By Abby Shepherd / January 10, 2024 at 12:10 PM

The national defense and Navy budget is on an "unsustainable course," Sen. Angus King (I-ME) told attendees gathered at today's annual Surface Navy Association Symposium. The speech follows months of uncertainty around the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act and funding appropriations.

“We’re on an unsustainable course, everyone knows that, not everybody knows how to fix it, but the budget issues are real and there’s not going to be a time where everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, we have an extra $100 million for shipbuilding’ -- I don't think that’s going to happen anytime soon,” King said.

King also called for the modernization of the nuclear triad, including the Air Force’s B-21 strike stealth bomber, the Columbia-class submarine and the Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile system. Strengthening these programs is necessary for deterrence, he added.

“If we have a nonexistent or weak nuclear deterrent, it invites aggression,” the senator continued.

King also highlighted ongoing industrial base challenges, especially as the Navy develops the DDG(X) next-generation warship, meant to succeed the current Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers.

The industrial base “can’t turn off and on,” King said, and cooperation between the Navy and private sector when it comes to design and development of these ships can “be very useful and have positive budgetary outcomes.”

Multiyear procurement is also a tool that proves beneficial for taxpayers and the industrial base, King said.

With President Biden signing the FY-24 NDAA into law in December, no funding has been appropriated yet, with the Pentagon currently operating under stopgap continuing resolutions until Feb. 2.