Spending Bill May Delay Pentagon Weapons Plans

Wall Street Journal

Congress is expected to pass legislation today to continue funding the federal government through March 4, which is a relief to those who feared a government shutdown but a source of some hand-wringing within the Pentagon and the defense industry.

The measure would fund the government at fiscal year 2010 levels, but does not allow the Department of Defense to begin “new starts.” In other words, the military services cannot begin new weapons-buying programs, or boost current procurement numbers, according to a department spokeswoman.

What does that mean for specific weapons-buying programs? It depends.

In a letter Monday to House leadership, Rep. James Langevin (D., R.I.), Rep. Joe Courtney(D., Conn.) and several others expressed concern that a continuing resolution might complicate the Navy’s plans to buy two Virginia-class submarines.

The administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2011, they wrote, included $3.4 billion to purchase two of the subs, part of a multiyear buy approved earlier by Congress. The level of funding covered by the continuing resolution–$1.9 billion–would cover the cost of only one hull.

“If we are not able to support the president’s request via an anomaly to the CR [continuing resolution], the Navy will be unable to provide funding to the contractors by Jan. 31, 2011, requiring a renegotiation of the contract and delayed production at higher cost,” they wrote.

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Spending Bill May Delay Pentagon Weapons Plans »