WASHINGTON – Ongoing chaos surrounding the federal budget might prevent the Department of Defense from submitting its 2014 budget next month, the Pentagon admitted Thursday.
Federal budgets are supposed to be submitted to Congress in the first week of February. Delaying until subsequent months would be highly unusual, and could help set the stage for further legislative delays.
The Pentagon and other departments avoided immediate steep spending cuts after a New Year’s Eve deal that pushed the so-called “fiscal cliff” back to March. The across-the-board cuts would reduce expected defense spending by $600 billion over a decade, on top of nearly $500 billion in reductions DOD has already worked into its budgeting process.
But with a permanent answer to the question of spending cuts still elusive, DOD appears unsure how to craft a 2014 budget. Senior defense leaders are working with the White House Office of Management and Budget and pondering a range of options, Pentagon press secretary George Little said Thursday. A February submission still may be possible, he said.
“We’re working that through right now with OMB,” he said. “This is what happens when you don’t have a rational debate on the federal budget.”