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Pentagon Sweats Bullets as Budget Deadline Threatens to Deprive DoD of Ukraine, Bomber Funding

© Photo : US Air ForceWorkers destroy Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft. File photo.
Workers destroy Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.12.2022
The current “continuing resolution,” a type of spending bill designed to prevent the government from running out of money if Congress and the president can’t agree on a budget, is set to expire on December 16. If an omnibus budget isn’t passed, the Pentagon could be left short nearly $30 billion in promised cash.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other senior Pentagon officials are lobbying Congress to pass a 2023 omnibus federal government and defense budget bill instead of a year-long continuing resolution to avoid making painful sacrifices to new spending, including support for Ukraine.
“Let me urge Congress to pass an on-time appropriation so that we can get the capabilities to further strengthen our deterrence,” Austin told attendees at a defense forum in California on Friday, including lawmakers from both parties.
Some Republicans, including incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have called for the 2023 defense authorization bill to be finalized in the new year, after the new Congress convenes and the GOP gains control over the lower legislative chamber. This, the GOP believes, would give them more elbow room in negotiations to cut out pork, including liberal “woke” initiatives relating to diversity in the military and vaccine mandates.
The skyline of Northwest Washington, DC, looking toward the Washington Monument - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2022
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However, if an agreement on a budget can’t be reached before December 16, lawmakers could pass a continuing resolution lasting anywhere between one week and one year. The latter would freeze government and military spending at 2022 levels, prompting the Pentagon to urge Congress to pass a proper budget instead to avoid tens of billions of dollars in cuts, from R&D to Washington’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

“I still have trouble believing that a full-year CR would be doable for us. It’s a great threat, great threat,” Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord told US media Saturday. “It would be a bad reality.”

The Defense Department has calculated that a continuing resolution would force it to do without some $29 billion in promised spending outlined in the White House’s $813.3 billion defense budget for 2023.
The freeze would threaten a broad range of programs, including ammunition for Ukraine. Washington’s Ukraine funding is projected to run out in the spring anyway if Congress doesn’t approve a new $37.7 billion White House request for new spending.
“Ukraine is in a kinetic fight, and we are their No.1 helper. If they run out of ammo, they’re in a bad place,” McCord said.
FILE - Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.11.2022
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A continuing resolution would also mean $5 billion less in the US’ ongoing decades-long $2 trillion nuclear triad modernization program, plus $800 million less for new nuclear missile-armed submarines expected to come online in 2031 as Ohio-class boats are retired. Furthermore, it would mean cuts of $1.4 billion for other Navy programs, including the new USS Enterprise aircraft carrier and Virginia-class attack subs.
Other spending on the chopping block would include new missile systems, such as America’s lagging hypersonics programs, military construction and infrastructure projects, promised pay raises, and recruitment signup bonuses.
The effective cut in funding would also mean less money for programs designed to allow the US to maintain military superiority over China, and strategic programs like the new B-21 Raider, which was unveiled Friday in a lavish ceremony attended by Austin. A year-long continuing resolution would mean just $108 million for B-21 procurement, not enough to buy even a single bomber, currently priced at $692 million apiece.
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“We can’t outcompete China with our hands tied behind our back three, four, five or six months of every fiscal year,” McCord reportedly complained in a letter to lawmakers.
The debate over spending comes as the US’ national debt continues to rise, with obligations surpassing $31 trillion in October and continuing to climb, and total US unfunded liabilities reaching an astronomical $173 trillion, or $518,700 for every man, woman, and child in the country. The US’ federal debt to GDP ratio has reached 121.51 percent, one of the highest in the industrialized world.
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