Raymond Warns of Dire Consequences of a Full-Year CR

Raymond Warns of Dire Consequences of a Full-Year CR

Today the Chief of Space Operations spelled out the consequences if the U.S. Space Force is kept at its FY2021 funding level under a Continuing Resolution that lasts for all of FY2022. Gen. Jay Raymond’s frank remarks to House appropriators today left no doubt that the country’s newest military service would be particularly hard hit, including restricting the number of space launches to three instead of five.

When FY2022 began on October 1, 2021, none of the 12 appropriations bills had cleared Congress. As of today, nothing has changed. The government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on February 18. Under a CR, departments and agencies like DOD are kept at their current funding levels. New programs cannot begin and old ones cannot end.

House and Senate Democratic appropriators assert that Republicans are refusing to negotiate or even put forward their own proposals. Although there appears to be bipartisan acceptance among appropriators to fund DOD at a higher level than President Biden requested, Democrats fear Republicans are willing to forego a defense funding boost in order to force Democrats to accept lower non-defense funding levels set when President Trump was in office and Republicans controlled the Senate.

The House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee held a virtual hearing today with leaders of DOD’s military services and DOD’s Comptroller to highlight the impact of not passing a FY2022 defense appropriations bill. Their message was clear. The U.S. military, especially readiness, will suffer if they must operate under a CR for all of FY2022 — a full-year CR. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and many others have been making that point for weeks.

Gen. C.Q. Brown, Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff (L) and Gen. Jay Raymond, Space Force Chief of Space Operations (R), testify virtually to the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, January 12, 2022. Screengrab.

For the Space Force, which just celebrated its second birthday, getting stuck as its FY2021 level would be particularly problematical because it is still in the formative phase. Biden’s budget request is a $2.1 billion increase over FY2021, $17.5 billion versus $15.4 billion, but that money will not be forthcoming unless Congress agrees and then passes an appropriations bill.

Raymond pointed out that space threats are growing as demonstrated by Russia’s recent antisatellite test and China’s “demonstration of a hypersonic glide vehicle on a fractional orbital trajectory,” so this is no time to slow down.

“The Space Force is uniquely dependent on increasing appropriations because we must rapidly field new warfighting capabilities and functions that did not exist when space was treated as a benign domain. We are in a competition with China and Russia, where the stakes are access to, freedom of action in, and stability and security of a domain that every American depends on daily and every warfighter relies on to successfully accomplish their mission; we cannot afford risks imposed by a yearlong continuing resolution (CR).”

Raymond said the National Security Space Launch program would be hardest hit in the procurement account. The Space Force would be limited to the same number of launch services it had in FY2021, three, instead of the five requested for FY2022.

“A yearlong CR would delay these launches by one year, slowing our ability to place previously acquired systems on orbit as well as deferring our ability to realize the benefit and cost-savings of NSSL Phase 2 launch services agreements.”

A full-year CR would also mean a loss of $700 million for missile warning and missile tracking programs, space domain awareness, protected satellite communications, and positioning, navigation and timing systems, and “$800 million intended for development of classified operational systems designed to deter China and Russia and respond if deterrance fails.”

“We have been charged to not only establish a new service, but to ensure our Nation has enduring advantage and security in a new warfighting domain. A yearlong continuing resolution would seriously compromise the Space Force’s ability to enhance unity of effort and efficiency; generate mission ready forces; and deliver the resilient architectures we need in the space domain.”

Subcommittee Chair Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Ranking Member Ken Calvert (R-CA) did agree on the need to pass the defense appropriations bill, but little else. McCollum quoted an unnamed Republican House member who said in December that “Republicans should be in favor of a CR until Biden’s out of office, it would be the proper Republican thing to do and everybody saying otherwise is foolish” and she has heard other Republicans say the same thing. Calvert criticized Democrats for blaming Republicans and insisted they have offered to negotiate if Democrats agree to certain conditions: no poision pills, retain legacy riders, and domestic spending must go down and defense spending must go up. The exchange between full committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) was similar in tone.

Basically, they all agree on the need to pass appropriations bills, but not how to get that done in the current political climate.

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