DOD contemplating revised spending plan that strips nearly $40 billion from FY-22 expectation

By Jason Sherman / December 10, 2021

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- Political dysfunction in Congress is driving Pentagon leaders to contemplate a major internal budget drill to craft a second, parallel plan for fiscal year 2022 that would wring nearly $40 billion from expected spending plans and prepare for major setbacks across the weapon system modernization portfolio.

Senior Defense Department leaders here said that the U.S. military is looking to draw from the playbook of the early years of the sequester provision of the 2011 Budget Control Act when gridlock forced the Obama administration to prepare budget plans embedded with two parallel -- and dramatically different -- resource scenarios.

“In 2013, when we went through sequestration we basically had to have two budget processes going: one that was kind of at the lower level and one was at the level we hoped we get,” a senior defense official here said Dec. 4 on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum. “We may have to do something like that again.”

Last week, Congress extended a stop-gap spending measure to fund the federal government until early February, limiting the Defense Department to pro-rata spending based on $703 billion appropriated for the Pentagon’s base budget in FY-21.

As lawmakers debate whether and how to fund the federal government in FY-22, there is bi-partisan support in defense committees responsible for the Pentagon budget for as much as $740 billion in FY-22, including a $25 billion increase above the Biden administration’s request.

“The political part of the budget process is not in sync with the bureaucratic part of the budget,” said the senior defense official. “It's going to be challenging.”

Heidi Shyu, the Pentagon’s top technology official responsible for new weapons technology development, said the lack of a normal appropriations bill is hampering the United States in the race against China and Russia to develop and deploy advanced capabilities.

“I am truly, truly hoping that the Hill will come together and understand a [continuing resolution] is a not-good thing,” Shyu told reporters here on Dec. 4. “It puts us further behind our adversaries. Why would you want to do that? It's a self-inflicted wound. Let's get a budget together. Let us move forward on all the things we need to do.”