Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Defense Funded, but Budget Debate to Continue

Last week, prior to leaving on a two week spring break, Congress passed a continuing resolution that funds the federal government for the balance of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Defense was funded at a rate of $513 billion for FY-2011, bringing an end to a funding crisis for the Pentagon but not to the ongoing budget melodrama.

DoD faced a cash flow conundrum when a series of short term continuing resolutions (CRs) were passed during a heated deficit debate between the House and Senate. In March, CRs only weeks in length were passed, preventing DoD from paying for anything beyond the authorization limits of the CR. Procurement and contracts were put on hold, and military orders for both active duty and the Reserve Components were restricted to what could be executed during the period of available monies.

Prior to the FY agreement between the House, Senate and the White House (as a President might veto any bill), partisan deliberations became impassioned with accusations flung by each party. Described by pundits as bickering, the media hyped the debate, quoting the worst allegations.

The focus became “government shutdown,” and the ammunition used by some was “the military wouldn’t be paid.” This sent a ripple of panic through some military and veteran service organizations, which began letter campaigns and sent out instructions on how a government shut down would affect its membership. Yet what was feared never occurred.

ROA’s analysis was that a shut down, if occurring at all, would be short in duration, and as predicted funding was passed in the last minutes prior to the midnight deadline.

Within the Pentagon, a sigh of relief was likely heard, but the deficit debate is not yet over. Congress must still decide whether to raise the debt ceiling in May, and the FY-2012 budget will be formed during the summer and fall. DoD is funded is only until the end of September, and many in Congress are looking at defense dollars as a means to reduce the budget. The FY-2011 CR was $2 billion lower for DoD than was first suggested by the majority in the House.

ROA promises to keep a responsible watch as events and rhetoric develop, and will relay an honest appraisal of the situation to its membership. When the time is right, ROA will let the grassroots know when it is time to contact elected officials.

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