It appears increasingly unlikely Congress will pass a budget before September 30. Senate leaders already are in talks with the White House to plan a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through early December.
A CR is extremely disruptive to federal agencies because it places them in the position of planning in three-month increments versus executing long-term budget plans they already developed.
For DoD, the absence of long-term funding can mean:
- Planned force level changes (increases or decreases) must be put on hold;
- If the CR runs past January first, the military pay raise could be put on hold;
- DoD is prevented from adjusting funding away from programs that were to be terminated or downsized, wasting millions of dollars; and
- Retired pay and SBP annuities (including COLAs, if any) would be paid on time, since those are mandatory spending programs that aren't subject to annual appropriations.
Among VA programs, veterans and survivors will continue to receive disability compensation and pension payments, but a CR would affect other functions that may leave veterans seeing reduced services.
The president requested a $1.7 billion funding hike for VA medical care that will not be provided. Under a CR, planned expansions of Hepatitis C treatments, $83 million in funding for caregivers, and expanded funding for long-term care programs couldn't
The VA will also be unable to move forward with opening some newly leased or constructed medical clinics because the $238 million in new funding for equipment, supplies and staffing won't be available.
Further, VA won't be able to hire the extra 300 employees planned to “right size” its workforce in claims processing, so backlogs will rise.
At the end of the day, CRs create massive inefficiencies for the government.
Government would be far more efficient and the people would be much better off if Congress could pass its appropriations on time so all agencies could move forward with long-term planning and improvements.