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Chief Of Naval Operations Admiral Michael M. Gilday issued a stark warning to lawmakers about the dangers of funding the military under continuing resolutions, testifying that the lack of a stable and predictable budget will harm the Navy’s ability to confront adversaries, such as China and Russia.
Part of the issue with continuing resolutions is inflation, which chips away at the Department of Defense’s budget if spending levels fail to keep pace. That problem is even more pronounced this year, with the latest numbers showing inflation jumped to a nearly 40-year high last month.
“Back here, there is little evidence that we have grasped the reality that our security and way of life are being threatened, as we come before you four months into another CR to plead for steady, predictable funding,” Gilday said in testimony to the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense Wednesday.
Gilday told lawmakers that it is “critical time for our country,” pointing to the advances made by China and Russia and warning that the Navy will have a hard time keeping pace and could soon “turn incremental gains into long-term strategic advantages.”
At issue is the growing trend for Congress to pass continuing resolutions, a short-term measure that continues to temporarily fund the government at previous spending levels, instead of coming to an agreement on a full-year appropriations bill.
While Congress passed and President Biden signed the fiscal 2022 Defense Authorization Act, that money must now be authorized by a full appropriations bill. But leaders in Washington have not been able to come to an agreement on a fiscal year 2022 budget, with Biden signing the second continuing resolution of the fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown last month.
That continuing resolution funded the government through Feb. 18, but some worry that differences in Congress could open up the prospect of funding the government through continuing resolutions for the entire fiscal year.
Such an approach would severely hamper military readiness, Department of Defense leaders such as Gilday have warned, effectively freezing funding levels and making it more difficult for the military to invest in future projects vital to national defense.
Association of the U.S. Navy Director Jason Beardsley told Fox News Wednesday that inflation and other rising costs make it difficult for the Navy to focus on long-term projects and training, saying that operating under continuing resolutions will undermine the Navy’s ability to compete with “near-peer” rivals, such as China and Russia.
Beardsley pointed to the Navy’s goal of reaching 355 ships, a number Congress passed into law because it was identified as the amount needed to “contain or compete” with China. Yet operating under continuing resolutions means the Navy has to allocate its resources sparingly, leading to an inability to invest in future equipment and training.
“We’re falling even further behind,” Beardsley said. “So that doesn’t just stop us from investing forward, but it makes us compromise to keep up. So now we’re keeping up with last year’s mission, but we’ve lost more money.”
Beardsley pointed to a spate of events that have plagued the Navy in recent years, including back-to-back incidents in 2017 that saw Navy ships collide with commercial vessels, arguing that training will continue to suffer if the Navy does not receive stable funding.
Meantime, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. warned lawmakers that another continuing resolution “would stall much of the progress we are making towards today’s readiness and tomorrow’s modernization.”
Brown also warned that money was not the only issue at hand, noting that the Air Force will never get back the time that could have been spent keeping pace with the country’s military rivals.
“As much as a year-long Continuing Resolution affects our Air Force fiscally, the impact it has to our rate of change is more shattering,” Brown said in his testimony. “All the money in the world cannot buy more time; time is irrecoverable, and when you are working to keep pace against well-resourced and focused competitors, time matters.”