Pentagon procurements are on pause until the federal government passes the full-year defense appropriations bill, USSF Chief of Space Operations John W. Raymond and other DoD officials testified Wednesday.
Backstory: The government is currently operating on a stopgap spending bill, or continuing resolution (CR), that ends Feb. 28. Congress is considering passing a yearlong CR, stretching out last year’s funding allocations.
Under the CR, the Pentagon can continue funding programs at ‘FY21 levels, but can’t spend on new ones. Until Congress passes a new budget, satellite procurements and launch contracts have ground to a halt.
- $37M in R&D, test, and engineering funding and $23M in commercial satellite communications office funding would be eliminated under a yearlong stopgap.
- The USSF hoped to procure five launches in FY22. Under the CR, it can procure three—the same as FY21.
In his written testimony, Raymond pushed hard against the idea of a yearlong CR. The stakes: “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,” Raymond writes.
- With the space domain changing so rapidly, Raymond said, gridlock puts the US at a tactical disadvantage.
- The biggest risks for the USSF: establishing organization and training programs, maintaining mission readiness, and modernizing systems.
Fiscal failures: The Biden administration proposed a $2B increase in USSF funding, but the bill has been stuck in Congress since October. Pres. Biden recently signed the FY22 NDAA, which boosts the Pentagon’s budget. That money is held up until the defense appropriations bill passes.