Legislative Issues

Legislative Affairs Co-Chair, COL John Koshan
 
May, 2017
 
The old adage goes, the more things change the more things stay the same. This couldn't be more true than today, after hearing the news that the Congress has passed still another CR (continuing resolution) to fund the government. The latest will expire in one (1) week, Friday May 5th. The plan is to allow the negotiators another week to craft a larger budget package thereby averting a government shutdown. Not being blamed for a government shutdown seems to be the objective here, and not the well planned and well run government we had hoped to see after the latest elections.
 
The government has been currently funded by a Continuing Resolution from the previous administration and as of today the 28th of April will continue to be funded for at least another week under a CR.
 
Congress is facing minimal time to resolve the funding dilemma. Of concern is the potential option of a new CR that would simply carry the government through to the end of the fiscal year. If this is the tract taken, it will not be well received by the Department of Defense. A failure to pass a budget is in the opinion of the Chief of Staff of the Army akin to business malpractice.
 
Adopting a CR means that funding remains under the previous year's level and that the start of new programs is not authorized except in rare instances. Implementing a full year CR would potentially mean canceled training, costly maintenance and supply shortages across the military.
 
The service chiefs all argue that the cumulative effects of the last eight years of CR's and five years of capped spending have significantly harmed the military, just as potential adversaries have made investments in their own military.
 
There are other funding options. Congress could pass a funding bill for the Department of Defense and not for other federal Departments. Congress could also craft a CR that would include provisions allowing Department of Defense to spend money as it requires within the statutory cap on total defense spending. Whatever necessary spending adjustments are not covered within the legislation could be changed by DoD redirecting funds within its budget or by congressional approvals to reprogram funds.
 
On the whole, a CR is a poor way to manage programs but the Congress, the Pentagon and the White House could probably insure that the worst does not happen.
 
The elephant in the room however, is SEQUESTRATION and by all accounts should be eliminated but as of yet still exists. Congress needs to act decisively and replace Sequestration with an alternate debt reduction plan. If not, an even more devastating round of defense cuts will occur and will put our nation's defense capabilities at an unacceptable risk. Avoiding Sequestration is fundamental to our nation's well-being. MOAA urges all of us to get involved and contact our representatives concerning this budget item.
 
The Military spending debate will rage on but it at least is on the side of budget increase not decrease. The President has called for increases for the military and both the House and Senate armed services committees have called for more than what the President has asked for. A Good Sign, now, it is up to the congress to deliver.
 
MOAA strongly urges congress to pass a defense spending bill, anything short is a failure to uphold their constitutional responsibility of providing for the Defense of the Nation. We have a role to play, our support for MOAA's legislative actions and our willingness to express our opinions to our elected officials are essential to our well being as a nation.