Possible extended continuing resolution will threaten warfighters

Possible extended continuing resolution will threaten warfighters

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September will be a critical month on Capitol Hill. After Labor Day, Congress will return from a lengthy seven-week recess.

Immediately upon their return, the members will be faced with the fact that no appropriations bills have been sent to the president yet, and the government fiscal year ends on Oct.1.

The members will go through the annual ritual of passing a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at last year’s levels, with the main debate being over the question of how long the CR should last.

Will it last until Christmas, with the hope that a “lame duck” session in December will be able to pass an omnibus appropriations bill?

Or will it last into the spring of 2017, when a new president and a new Congress can shape the resources the government will have for the remaining six months of the fiscal year?

Another possibility is that Congress will just throw up its hands in a gesture of dysfunction, and pass a continuing resolution that lasts the whole fiscal year.

This last option would be tragic.

Continuing resolutions not only lock in funding at the previous year’s level, they prevent new programs from starting.

If you are in business, and are competing for a contract with the government in a new start program, you could be delayed a year in being awarded that contract.

For most businesses, that revenue was part of your business plan, and now that plan has a big hole in it. Suddenly, those workers you were going to add can’t be hired, and you may have to lay some current workers off.

It is a wonder that small and medium-size businesses continue bidding on contracts with the government, when the appropriations process is so predictably unreliable.

Congress hasn’t passed all of its appropriations bills on time since 1994.

Congress can’t seem to do its constitutional job to fund the federal government on time. In this presidential election year, the politics have been even more heated than usual, causing the process to break down once again.

Our Army and the Department of Defense are forced to operate more and more inefficiently each time a CR is passed.

Every delay to a program adds cost, and every delay means it will be that much longer until our warfighters have new equipment.

As the cost goes up, we buy fewer end items, which means the whole force won’t be fielded with the tools to do their job, or the distribution timeline will be stretched out longer and longer.

Meanwhile, the requirements and missions for our soldiers continue to grow as the force shrinks.

We elect the members of Congress to represent us and our interests. America’s national security is at risk because our representatives cannot do the job we sent them to Washington to do.

AUSA is non-partisan and apolitical, but we encourage our Association members to get informed on the issues, and ask your candidates for office what they will do to break the Washington gridlock.

How will they help Congress start doing its constitutional duties again, on time?

Our Army and our country sorely need their answer.

See you on the high ground.