Money Matters

By Dan Dupont / April 5, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and 11 colleagues have sent a letter to Senate leaders demanding "that adequate full-year funding for the Department of Defense be included in any legislative measure that would continue to fund the federal government beyond the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution (CR)."

From her statement today:

The current Continuing Resolution (CR) that is funding the government expires on Friday, April 8, and Senator Collins agrees with top Pentagon officials who have repeatedly testified before Congress that continuing to operate the Defense Department under a CR, or at significantly reduced spending, could severely impact military operations and readiness, service members and their families, and could threaten jobs in defense-related industries.

"I have received testimony from every senior leader of our military services in the past month -- and they all have the same message: our military faces a crisis if the Department has to continue to operate under a CR," Senator Collins said.

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Libya last week, Secretary Gates reiterated his concern regarding the continuing CR and our military commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Japan: "We are in serious budget trouble. The ongoing CR and significant budget cuts at a time when we are asked to do so much, I think, brings this issue home. And, frankly, I need help from the Congress. The Department of Defense needs help from the Congress. If we're going to do all these things, we need the resources to do them. And under this continuing resolution, we're canceling ship deployments because we don't have the money to pay for 'em."

Today's letter is also signed by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jonny Isakson (R-GA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME).

And from the letter:

Operating under a CR not only hurts readiness, it is inefficient and expensive. For example, the Navy will not be able to take advantage of cost savings in the Virginia Class Submarine program or the efficiencies gained by procuring two DDG-51s in one year, and the Army and the Air Force will have to pay the costs associated with restarting programs they have stopped work on because the CR has frozen funding levels. . . .

Secretary of the Navy Raymond Mabus has stated that a CR will weaken the industrial base and jeopardize more than 10,000 private sector jobs at shipyards, factories, and Navy and Marine Corps facilities across the country.

In no time in recent memory has Congress failed to pass a defense appropriations bill. Even when a year-long CR funded the government during fiscal year 2007, Congress passed a separate bill providing for the Department of Defense. With troops in harm's way, now is not the time to break with that precedent.