Lloyd Austin urges Congress to pass new spending bill to avoid ‘significant harm’

Lloyd Austin
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin awaits the arrival of Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/AP

Lloyd Austin urges Congress to pass new spending bill to avoid ‘significant harm’

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is urging lawmakers to pass a new spending bill for the Pentagon roughly three weeks before the government is set to shut down on Dec. 16.

Austin expressed the urgency in avoiding another continuing resolution, a temporary funding measure that provides negotiators with more time to agree to a large spending bill, in a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) reported by Politico.

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“It is essential that Congress act now to complete a full-year, whole of government funding bill before the end of 2022. Failure to do so will result in significant harm to our people and our programs and would cause harm to our national security and our competitiveness,” Austin wrote. “The CR costs us time as well as money, and money can’t buy back time, especially for lost training events. Under the CR, Congress prohibits the military from commencing new initiatives, such as those requested by our theater commanders in the Indo-Pacific and around the world or in support of Service members and their families at home.”

The military is unable to achieve its goals under a CR, the secretary argued, both in terms of modernization as well as for supporting service members and their families.

“The CR hurts American Service members and their families. For example, if the CR extends beyond December, we may be forced to reduce accessions or permanent change of station moves, impairing our ability to meet our missions, and causing unnecessary disruption to our families and our ability to recruit personnel,” he wrote. “As in FY2022, it is impairing our ability to hire the people we need to accelerate our efforts to eradicate sexual assault and prevent suicides. The CR is delaying needed investments in military infrastructure, including barracks and child care centers. Under a year-long CR, we would lose an entire year of investment in our infrastructure, because military construction projects are by definition prohibited new starts.”

A shutdown or CR would “cause delays in all three legs of the nuclear trial when we have no schedule margin left to give,” and Austin pleaded with congress to “break this pattern of extensive inaction.”

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He also argued the United States wouldn’t be able to “outcompete China with our hands tied behind our back three, four, five or six months of every fiscal year,” which officials have described as the U.S.’s most formidable adversary.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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