President Donald Trump signs the Hurricane Harvey Funding Bill, H.R. 601, Sept. 8, 2017, at Camp David near Thurmont, Md. The bill provides $15 billion in disaster relief for hurricane victims and approves a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Dec. 8, 2017. White House photo by Andrea Hanks.
President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a continuing resolution to fund the federal government at current levels through Dec. 8. The measure, which allows federal spending beyond the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, was attached to a bill providing $15.25 billion in emergency funding to support relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the bill also includes an increase in the federal debt ceiling.
The House had voted 316-90 to approve the measure on Sept. 8, one day after the Senate passed it on a vote of 80-17. A statement issued by the White House focused on the disaster relief portion of the bill, saying the administration “will always put the needs of the American people above partisan politics as usual.” The statement did not mention the continuing resolution.
Despite passing with large margins in both chambers, the law was opposed by the chairmen of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) voted against the bill. “The reason I am voting against this bill, is that it forces our military to operate under a stopgap continuing resolution—once again,” said Thornberry in a press release.
“Continuing resolutions do enormous, lasting damage to the American military,” Thornberry said, and he pointed to “an alarming increase in accidents” along with “an eroding technological position when compared with our adversaries” as realities that demand more permanent funding for the Department of Defense. He also said the continuing resolution “allows no new starts” in DOD programs for the next three months.
US military leaders have repeatedly told Congress that funding the DOD through continuing resolutions leads to extraordinary waste and makes long-term planning difficult or impossible.
Twelve defense-related organizations, including the Air Force Association, penned a letter to congressional leaders on Sept. 7, urging them to fully fund the government rather than approve another short-term continuing resolution.
“The Air Force is already suffering readiness issues, and continuing resolutions delay the start of new acquisition programs, services, and training that are critical to the warfighters. They waste dollars by preventing the termination of obsolete programs. The Air Force needs full defense appropriations at the earliest opportunity,” said Denise Hollywood, AFA Vice President and Executive Director.