If the Navy is forced to live with a yearlong continuing resolution, the service would have to cut the number of recruits it adds by nearly 10,000, prevent 37,000 moves, and stop the construction of ships it says are crucial to national security, service leaders are warning lawmakers.
A continuing resolution, or CR, is the funding mechanism that keeps spending fixed when Congress fails to agree on a budget bill. Lawmakers are already three months late in delivering a new spending law, with no immediate end to the stalemate in sight.
In a phone interview with reporters Tuesday, Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, followed up on the congressional testimony of his boss, the chief of naval operations, and explained the scope of the cuts the Navy is prepared to make in greater detail.
In a hearing with the House Appropriations Committee earlier this month, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday warned a CR would mean cutting the number of new recruits for the service to 23,000 from the 31,500 accessions originally planned, as well as halting initial special and incentive pay and selected reenlistment bonuses.
Aside from slashing the number of recruits the Navy plans to take on in the next fiscal year, Gumbleton noted that a yearlong continuing resolution would also impact sailor moves.
"There would be an impact where we would literally cut 37,000 moves," Gumbleton said.
"If you're a second class petty officer or a lance corporal and you're stationed overseas and you thought you were going to come back stateside -- maybe we're going to defer that move until next year because we can't afford that," he added.
A yearlong CR could also delay one of the Navy's top priorities, the Columbia-class submarine, Gilday testified. Gumbleton explained that the program would lose half a billion dollars in funding.
"That has a very much potential to impact that [delivery] schedule," Gumbleton explained.
"We know that the first boat is gonna deliver a few years out ... so hopefully, it will be an opportunity to make this up," he added.
Gumbleton also emphasized the hit to maintenance and ship building that the Navy would take under a CR.
"We would not do maintenance on five submarines and two aircraft carriers," Gumbleton noted.
He added that the Navy would need to "reduce the flying hour counts to all our pilots, Navy and Marine Corps, by 10 or 20% in the last quarter and a half of the fiscal year."
However, Gumbleton stressed that while the sea service is considering drastic cutbacks, it will not let the budget interfere with its role in the latest foreign crisis -- the standoff between Russia and Ukraine.
"We're not going to let a CR impact that," he said. Instead, the Navy's budget chief said the service would "take a ruthless prioritization to maintain our forward-deployed forces at the expense" of flying hours, acquiring new ships and aircraft, as well as recruitment.
The warnings from senior Navy leaders come as lawmakers are making little progress on reaching an agreement for a regular appropriations bill nearly four months into fiscal 2022. Underscoring the wide gap that remains between the two sides, Democrats and Republicans at the hearing could not even agree on whether Republicans had made Democrats a counteroffer in negotiations.
The top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Appropriations committees met for talks Jan. 13, expressing optimism about reaching a deal, but Congress left town for a weeklong recess this week without an agreement as the current CR's Feb. 18 expiration date looms.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.