Senate Passes Stopgap Spending Bill Hours Ahead of Federal Shutdown Deadline

The Senate voted 84-10 on Sept. 30 to pass a stopgap spending measure that would keep the federal government open through Dec. 11, pending President Donald J. Trump’s likely approval.

Congress opted not to finish the appropriations process before fiscal 2021 begins Oct. 1, so federal agencies are restricted to the same amount of money they received in 2020 and cannot start any new spending programs. Lawmakers use continuing resolutions to punt on starting the fiscal year on time nearly every fall.

The Department of the Air Force wants about $169 billion in fiscal 2021, split between $153.6 billion for the Air Force and $15.4 billion for the Space Force.

Air Force Magazine reported Sept. 24 that a three-month continuing resolution would stymie the Space Force’s growth as a separate military branch, push back production of the E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node jet, and delay Space Force construction projects.

“[Continuing resolutions] immediately disrupt major exercises and training events, affect readiness and maintenance, curtail hiring and recruitment actions, and adversely impact contracting negotiations,” Air Force spokesman Capt. Jacob N. Bailey said in a Sept. 24 email.

Congress could wait even longer on a 2021 appropriations package. If the delay stretches to a full year, the Air Force warned a 12-month CR would block 48 new programs from starting, cut short production increases to seven aircraft and weapons, stop 19 military construction projects, stifle the service’s response and recovery efforts for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and limit the Air Force’s plan to grow its workforce by 1,500 people.