The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all but explicitly told the American public to vote out their members of Congress.
Gen. Paul Selva had harsh words for the nation’s legislative institution, blaming it for military waste and problems because it was unable to break the pattern of continuing resolutions and pass a meaningful budget.
“If it makes you feel better, we are all making history. We’ve had the longest period in American history where Congress has been unable to deliver a budget on schedule. We’ve had the longest period in American history where we have not complied with constitutional budget order and we have the first administration in the history of the United States that has transitioned under a continuing resolution.” Selva said during an April 13 Air Force Association breakfast in Arlington, Virginia. “Congratulations. All of your names will be in a history book somewhere. They should be in a history book as the American citizens who lost faith in the ability of Congress to do its job.”
Congress must pass at budget for 2017 by April 28 or the government will be shutdown. The nation has been operating under a continuing resolution since October 2016.
The military services already told Congress that continuing to operate under a continuing resolution for the rest of the year would be detrimental.
“It’s the cumulative effect. We’ve been doing CRs now for eight years and a shutdown in 13,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this month. “It’s like smoking cigarettes. One cigarette is not going to kill you, but you do that for eight, 10, 20 years, 30 years you’re eventually going to die of lung cancer.”
Selva asked Congress to simply pass a budget so the military could plan better for its future.
“There’s a little part of me that says ‘I don’t even care what size it is, just give us a budget,’” Selva said.
He added that the 2017 defense authorization act is mostly defunct without the appropriations to back it up.
He called the NDAA a “masterful piece of work,” but said by law under the CR the military has to do what it did last year and must ask for approval for anything new.
“You want to buy a couple more airplanes? Sorry, can’t do that. You want to increase your spend of preferred munitions so you’re capable of fighting the fight you’re in? Sorry, not allowed. You’re given the authority to recruit 20,000 more soldiers into the United States Army. Nice idea, not funded. Continuing resolutions force us to spend money on this we don’t need and prevent us from spending money on things we do need,” Selva said.
Selva admitted DoD has its problems with money, but the lack of budgeting is causing more waste.
He said if a budget not passed on the 28th, the military will have $6 billion in acquisition money it cannot spend and an unfunded mandate for growing the force totaling about $5.25 billion That’s due to the changes in what Congress mandated in the 2017 NDAA, but the restrictions of the military operating on a budget from 2016.
“One of you will ask me ‘How come the new aircraft carrier has another $300 million or $400 million cost overrun?’ and you’ll look at me quizzically when I say, ‘Well the first reason that is true is we had to lay off all the people that know how to build air craft carriers for four months because we didn’t have the money to continue the procurement to build the damn aircraft carrier,” Selva said.