In less than three weeks, on March 8, the continuing resolution currently funding the Defense Department will expire.

“The department is still operating under a third extension of a continuing resolution, a stopgap funding measure that prevents any new starts and limits our ability to implement a fully resourced national defense strategy,” said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a briefing today. “No amount of money can buy back the time we lose when we are forced to operate under continuing resolutions.”

A continuing resolution is temporary funding for federal agencies in lieu of an appropriations bill having been signed into law. For fiscal year 2024, that bill should have been signed into law before Oct 1, 2023. 

This isn’t the first time the DOD has gone for a significant amount of time without an approved budget. Since 2011, the DOD has had appropriations at the start of the year for only one fiscal year — FY2019.

“If you add up the total time spent under a CR going back to 2011, we’ve spent nearly five years under CRs,” Singh said. “That puts our national security at risk and prevents the department from modernizing as we continue to be constrained to existing funding levels and prevented from launching new programs.”

Continuing resolutions, such as the one DOD is currently operating under, are a short- term effort, and make it difficult for the department to do its job. Lacking a continuing resolution or a full appropriation, the government is also at risk of shutting down. 

“This brinkmanship creates uncertainty, increased costs and delays missions, and most importantly, it’s a distraction for the force,” Singh said. “We will continue to defend the nation and conduct ongoing military operations. But the impact of a government shutdown will be widespread and devastating to our service members, their families and DOD civilians who work every day in support of our national security.” 

Singh said the Defense Department will continue to defend the nation, but that without an approved budget, it will be increasingly difficult to do what’s being asked of it. 

“We must break this pattern of inaction,” Singh said. “We can’t out-compete the PRC with one hand tied behind our back [for] three, four, five or even six months of every fiscal year. The best way that Congress can support the department is to pass appropriations bills into law as soon as possible. We need predictable, adequate, sustained and timely funding.”

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