President Joe Biden signed a tiered stopgap funding bill on Thursday that keeps the Defense Department funded through early February 2024 and includes an anomaly for the Columbia-class submarine program.
The bill, which is the second continuing resolution for Fiscal Year 2024, would fund the Veterans Affairs Department and military construction through Jan. 19, 2024, and the Pentagon through Feb. 2, 2024. Under a CR, the Pentagon cannot spend money on new-start programs and is limited to the prior fiscal year’s spending levels.
The latest CR, like the first one, includes an anomaly for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program. The Navy’s stated number one acquisition priority, the program is building new boats as the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad. Under the new CR, the Navy can spend up to $3.3 billion in advanced procurement for the Columbia program.
“The Department requires a continuing resolution anomaly because the Columbia class submarine program requires additional advanced procurement funding through February 2, 2024 over the FY 2023 enacted Columbia class submarine advance procurement amount of $2,779M (already provided to the program),” a Navy spokesman told USNI News. “The additional $560 million will finance additional advance procurement requirements with the shipbuilder (General Dynamics Electric Boat) as well as ordnance and hull, mechanical, and electrical government furnished equipment and services with other contractors and naval warfare centers.”
While the last CR included $621 million so the Navy could begin building the second Columbia-class boat, the new CR changed that number to $663 million.
The stopgap measure will keep the government open while lawmakers continue working on the funding and authorization bills for FY 2024.
In a statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressed relief over CR’s passage, noting troops will receive pay during the holidays.
“As we have long made clear, operating under short-term continuing resolutions hamstrings the Department’s people and programs and undermines both our national security and competitiveness,” Austin said.
The Pentagon’s top civilian said lawmakers also need to pass the Biden administration’s supplemental funding request, which includes $3.4 billion for the submarine industrial base.
“I also urge Congress to take up and pass supplemental funding to strengthen our national security as soon as possible,” Austin said. “Our supplemental request directly supports our allies and partners, including Israel and Ukraine, during a critical period and makes key investments in our defense industrial base across the country.”