By Emelie Rutherford
The Pentagon could be funded in the coming months under a continuing resolution that maintains fiscal year 2011 funding at FY ’10 levels and does not allow for newly planned programs to kick off.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last Thursday night acknowledged he would not be able to garner support for a $1 trillion-plus omnibus appropriations bill for the entire federal government for all of FY ’11; the bill that was before the Senate contained funding for the disputed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine developed by General Electric [GE] and Rolls-Royce. Instead, the Senate planned to take up another short-term continuing resolution (CR) to cover the government in FY ’11 at FY ’10 funding levels after the current resolution was set to expire Saturday night. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) crafted a new CR that runs until Feb. 18. The Senate planned to stay in session over the weekend.
The House, meanwhile, last Friday passed a short-term CR keeping the government running until Dec. 21 at FY ’10 levels.
The House previously passed a CR two weeks ago that would fund the Department of Defense and rest of the government for all of FY ’11, which runs until Sept. 30, largely at FY ’10 levels. The House-passed whole-year CR does not specifically fund the alternate engine. The FY ’10 Pentagon budget, though, includes $465 million for it, and some supporters of the second engine said they believe the long-term House CR would keep the program funded.
Obama had threatened to veto legislation that funds the engine effort that Congress has consistently funded in recent years over Pentagon objections.
The policy-setting defense authorization bill for FY ’11, meanwhile, moved toward approval late last week.
The House on Friday passed a compromise bill that House and Senate lawmakers hashed out two days earlier. The chamber passed the defense authorization bill via a 341-48 suspension vote, a process that allows for limited discussion of the legislation.
That authorization bill, which was before the Senate at press time last Friday, no longer contains controversial measures that were in a version that passed the House in May, including a specific authorization for the F-35 second engine and the repeal of the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on gay troops, which was broken into separate legislation.
The authorization bill’s fate in the Senate was uncertain last Friday afternoon.