Year-end Shutdown Looms as Budget Uncertainty Paralyzes the Uniformed Services

Year-end Shutdown Looms as Budget Uncertainty Paralyzes the Uniformed Services
(Photo by Teddy Kwok / EyeEm)

Our servicemembers need your help. Tell Congress to pass a budget now!


Congress has failed again to deliver a federal budget for the new fiscal year that started Oct. 1, opting instead for another continuing resolution (CR), this one funding the government through Dec. 20.


Another CR creates more uncertainty and less predictability for uniformed servicemembers and their families, and may set the stage for a government shutdown during holiday season amid turbulent times and partisanship on Capitol Hill. Federal agencies have unfortunately become accustomed to the CR problem: In 13 of the last 18 years, the federal government has started the fiscal year under a continuing resolution.


[RELATED: Tell Congress to Pass a Budget Now]


Why Is a CR So Bad?


A CR is very restrictive because no new projects, acquisitions, or changes to contracts may occur. Each of the military services have compelling reasons why a CR is damaging to our national security and fiscally irresponsible. Some examples from recent news coverage:


  • Army: Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and his chiefs of staff have identified 31 modernization projects requiring immediate funding to maintain progress in innovation, specifically in urgent areas of cybersecurity and technology.


  • Navy: Service leaders have outlined the cost of continuous CRs, which may have reached $4 billion since 2011. The funding is vital to build up the strength of the service to address contemporary threats.


  • Air Force: About 145 projects in development will be negatively affected by the budget impasses, according to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein … if they have not been already. Included on the list is an estimated $466 million for funding the natural disaster recovery efforts at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and Offutt AFB, Neb.


Another example that may be closer to the daily lives of military families: When discussing the long road to bringing Army barracks and family housing back to standard at a recent roundtable, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston reminded the crowd, “We can’t work on anything new under a CR and we can’t start any construction.”


When our lawmakers come back from Thanksgiving break, they will only have three weeks to get a budget signed into law before the end of the first session in the 116th Congress. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) were able to reach an agreement over this last weekend, signaling they are ready to get to work and pass the appropriations. The agreement provided subcommittee funding allocation, but challenging topics regarding the border wall and military construction funding still remain contentious.


MOAA urges our members and readers to reach out to your members of Congress and let them know that our servicemembers and their families need their help in passing a budget before the Dec. 20 deadline so they can resume normal lives and operations. Send a letter to your legislator today.

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About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.