Army Secretary Seeks Time to Spend FY2018 Money

NGAUS Washington Report
March 13, 2018

Army Secretary Mark Esper wants more time to spend money not yet approved by Congress.

“I would prefer to have a year to spend those dollars,” he told reporters Monday in Washington, D.C.

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Congress has yet to approve a budget for the current fiscal year, but hopes to do so before a continuing resolution ends March 23. But that would give the Defense Department only five months to meet the requirement to spend the operations and maintenance funding before the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.

“There are a lot of smart people in Congress that can figure this out,” Esper said, according to Defense News. “I think the will is there. The willingness is there to make it happen.”

Congress has approved $700 billion for the Pentagon in fiscal 2018 and $716 billion for fiscal 2019. But it has not yet finalized the deal by passing the budget. A series of continuing resolutions rather than budget deals has given the military a short amount of time to spend O&M money, which was more than $250 million last year.

Lawmakers have shown a desire to give the Pentagon the time it needs. Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee have asked that body’s appropriators to not punish the military for the tardiness of lawmakers. A House defense subcommittee has shown similar understanding of the situation.

Esper said, “They have all expressed an eagerness to do something. They understand the problems we face, so they are sympathetic to it.”