The Army’s vice chief of staff told a Senate panel Thursday a potential continuing resolution (CR) to fund the service in fiscal year 2020 would affect 118 programs, including delays to production increases and halting modernization efforts.
Gen. James McConville told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee, during a hearing to consider his nomination as the next Army chief of staff, the service would face significant readiness setbacks if Congress is unable to pass an FY ’20 defense budget before October 1.
“What happens with a continuing resolution to the United States Army is we have about 85 new programs that cannot start,” McConville said. “There’s about 33 production increases, where industry is ready to go, that won’t happen.”
The Army has proposed a $182.3 billion budget within the Pentagon’s overall $750 billion request.
The House Budget Committee released a new bill on April 2 that would support a $733 billion DoD budget for FY ’20 (Defense Daily, April 2).
A continuing resolution would set spending at the same levels as the previous year if Congress is unable to reach an agreement on a budget before the end of the fiscal year.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) noted Congress has just over 30 work days left before its planned August recess, and another 10 days after that to get a deal done before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
“There’s no way we’re going to get defense appropriations by September 30,” Perdue said.
McConville told Perdue if confirmed as the next Army chief he would provide the committee with a list of the specific programs that would be affected under a CR.
“Commanders will slow down training because they don’t know how much money they’re going to have in the future. So they’ll start to hedge, and not do the level of training that we want to do,” McConville said. “The readiness is going to go down. The modernization is not going to happen. Quality of life is not going to happen. All of those are really critical for what need for the Army.”
Army Secretary Mark Esper echoed McConville’s comments at a Brooking Institution event on Tuesday where he said a CR would “jeopardize momentum” and potential sequestration would have a “catastrophic effect.”
“Even worse yet would be a relapse into sequestration. This would be catastrophic for the Army,” Esper said. “The readiness gains we’ve made over the past couple of years, with over a 55 percent improvement in our Brigade Combat Team readiness since 2016, would be lost. And our modernization efforts would be halted.”
Esper said sequestration would lead to canceled combat training center rotations and halting the work done by the Cross-Functional Teams focused on delivering the Army’s six modernization priorities.
The SASC lawmakers during the hearing appeared to support McConville’s nomination to serve as the Army’s next chief of staff.
McConville was nominated in late March to succeed Gen. Mark Milley, who is set to serve as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Defense Daily, March 26).