UPDATED: House Passes Two Week Budget Reprieve
The Defense Department would be forced to furlough half of its civilian employees if the government were to shut down, Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn told the Senate today.
On top of that, Lynn said the department would be hard-pressed to pay both its civilian and military employees in mid-March should a shutdown occur. "It certainly would cause enormous disruption, an enormous distraction, and would be something the nation would want to avoid as a nation at war," Lynn told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of both the full committee and the subcommittee, told Lynn he had no desire or intent to shot down the government, clearly trying to set up the Republicans as the fall guys should there be a shutdown.
The New York Times reported late Tuesday afternoon that the House passed a budget measure giving the country two weeks reprieve, adding that the Senate looked likely to pass the House bill soon.
But that gives Congress only two weeks to build a new bill, leaving uncertain the prospects for a Continuing Resolution or a defense spending bill.
On top of the possible stresses from a government shutdown, Lynn and Inouye offered some new details about how a continuing resolution would affect the Pentagon.
The Army has no funds to refurbish Humvees, "which means that 300 personnel have been released from two critical Army maintenance depots. The Navy cannot award contracts for a second Virginia-class submarine, a second DDG-51, or the first Mobile Landing Platform. The Air Force will not be able to procure additional MQ-9 reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to increase the number of much needed combat air patrols in Afghanistan," Inouye said in his opening statement. "The Navy would be underfunded by $456 million, the Marine Corps by $468 million and the Air Force would experience a $1 billion shortfall in military personnel accounts."
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said that the Army has been forced to issue an emergency order shutting down work on the Stryker Mobile Gun systems as a result of the current funding situation.
If the Pentagon is funded by a CR, Lynn noted that the Pentagon provides 3 to 4 percent of the nation's economic activity and that would be threatened with disruption by a CR.
Inouye summed up the general sentiment of the subcommittee and of the Pentagon officials, saying that the, "list of affected programs and challenges does on and on, but ultimately it is the men and women in uniform that will pay the price" of a Continuing Resolution.