Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, center, tours a vessel at Naval Station Point Loma in San Diego, Calif., Sept. 28, 2022.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, center, tours a vessel at Naval Station Point Loma in San Diego, Calif., Sept. 28, 2022. (Chad McNeeley/Defense Department)

(Tribune News Service) — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has warned Congress again that continuing resolution spending harms Pentagon priorities — and in particular, harms areas of spending that are important to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the heart of Air Force logistics and procurement.

"Under the CR, the progress funded by our FY 23 research and development budget — the largest requested in history — cannot take place," Austin wrote in a new letter to congressional leaders. "And our FY 23 procurement request — also the largest requested in history — cannot be fully executed."

Austin sent the letter to party leaders in the House and Senate, national reports say.

Continuing resolutions are temporary spending measures that let federal government funding continue as final, full-year budgets are shaped, a process that usually takes months and is usually well delayed. The federal government's fiscal year starts on the first day of October.

The resolutions — sometimes called simply "CRs" — prevent government shutdowns but they don't permit a nimble shift in priorities or emphasis.

The warning from Austin has come before. Last year, he said CRs "misalign billions of dollars in resources in a manner inconsistent with evolving threats and the national security landscape."

"Essentially, in terms of real dollars, a CR would represent a budget cut — and a significant one at that," Austin said in December 2021.

Dayton's congressman, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (who sits on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces) in 2018 introduced the "It's About Time Act" to change the government funding deadline from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1.

"There is no reason the fiscal year should start on Oct. 1 other than Congress has previously said so," Turner said in 2018. "This has done unbelievable damage to the Department of Defense because Congress clearly cannot manage to pass spending bills by our current deadlines. Changing the calendar year would save DOD three painful months of Congress failing to get its work done."

Congress' latest budget extension is set to expire Dec. 16.

Austin's letter does not mention Wright-Patterson specifically. But the base of 32,000 military and civilian employees — the largest employer in one location in Ohio — is home to both Air Force Materiel Command, the command that equips the Air Force, and Air Force Research Laboratory, which conducts the scientific and technical research that provides weapons and equipment for both the Air Force and the Space Force.

(c)2022 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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