President Donald Trump signed into law Dec. 22 a continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the federal government open until Jan. 19 and provide $4.7 billion in emergency funding for ballistic missile defense and Navy ship repairs.
The Senate approved the CR (H.R. 1370) by a 66-32 vote late Dec. 21 following similar action in the House earlier in the day (Defense Daily, Dec. 21). The measure is the third consecutive CR for fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who was absent during the Senate vote due to health problems, released a statement blasting congressional leaders and the White House for approving another stopgap measure instead of coming up with a full-year budget package.
McCain said that another CR will further hurt military readiness by increasing ship maintenance backlogs and delaying scheduled training. It will also prevent 48 new starts and 24 production increases, including procurement boosts needed to replenish depleted inventories of munitions.
“As we wait another four weeks in hopes that congressional leaders negotiate a compromise, the military will work overtime to keep an already dire situation from getting worse,” McCain said. “In a time when more service members are dying in routine accidents than in combat, and our sailors are working 100-hour weeks, asking the military to wait another four weeks for adequate funding is unacceptable -- and it is a dereliction of the first and foremost duty of Congress to provide for the common defense."
According to the senator, munitions whose contract awards will be delayed include the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that while he supports the CR, “it is imperative that the Congress use the next few weeks to reach an agreement on spending levels in order to finalize FY 2018 appropriations. This new continuing resolution is a necessity, but it is the bare minimum. Congress must act promptly to provide adequate full-year funding for the Defense Department and other agencies.”
While the CR generally freezes government agencies at FY 2017 funding levels, it provides about $4 billion in emergency funding that the Trump administration requested for various ballistic missile defense efforts, including construction of another long-range interceptor field at Fort Greely, Alaska. It also contains $673.5 million to repair two destroyers – the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald – that were damaged in recent fatal collisions with other ships.