March 2, 2011

Budget Stalemate Hurting Services, Pentagon Official Says

By RICK MAZE at Federal Times -
Despite Defense Department warnings that troops, their families and overall military readiness are being hurt by the lack of a formal 2011 Pentagon budget, key Senate leaders said Tuesday that no quick end is in sight for the budgetary standoff.

"Unless cooler heads prevail, and both houses of Congress begin to make progress on passing this year's budget, there remains the possibility that the whole government could be funded through a full-year" continuing resolution, said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

A continuing resolution is a temporary funding measure that keeps the government operating at a reduced level when a permanent appropriations bill has not been approved by the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1. In most cases, the Defense Department is limited to spending at 2010 levels — which would be about $23 billion less than the department expected to get for the current year.

Defense funding is not a key element of the disagreement on government funding, but it is tied up in the battle over a strong push by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to cut $100 billion from the overall 2011 federal budget, something the Democrat-controlled Senate opposes.

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