WASHINGTON — Congress appears for the umpteenth time to be on the verge of extending a continuing resolution, funding federal government operations into March.
It's the third time lawmakers have done that since this fiscal year began in October.
The House on Tuesday approved extending the current continuing resolution, on a 272-162 vote, to continue paying for government operations through March 11.
The action comes despite dire warnings not to kick the can down the road when it comes to funding the military.
The latest warning came earlier this week when the Senate Armed Services Committee was told, in no uncertain terms, of the harm that another Continuing Resolution could do.
"When we have a prolonged CR, it affects readiness, it affects our ability to train," said Lieutenant General LG Michael Erik Kurilla, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead U.S. Central Command.
Also weighing in on Wednesday was Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
He said: "We can't start new programs. You can't build new ships. We're going to have to delay perhaps 100 military construction projects. And when you do that, it's not just the military installations that are affected. It's the local communities and local businesses."
If the Senate goes along with the House, a shutdown would be averted for another three weeks.
But the military is stuck making do in the Fiscal Year 2022 on FY 21's appropriation levels. Virginia lawmakers aren't happy.
"Oftentimes, defense programming, ship repair changes year to year," said Sen. John Warner (D-Virginia). "And if you have to use last year's budget, it will cost us jobs and frankly, cost taxpayers millions of dollars."
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) also criticized the stop-gap funding mechanisms.
He said: "And so, using a continuing resolution, just extending last year's budget without taking into account today's needs and tomorrow's needs is not the right way to fund the federal government."
House Armed Services Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia, 2nd District) also spoke out.
"I never like voting for a CR," she said. "But I certainly do not want to vote for a government shutdown."
Luria said instead of repeatedly approving stop-gap measures, the nation needs a proper, year-long, on-time budget.
"If we want to be the most efficient, firing on all cylinders, being able to provide the best maintenance for ships in Hampton Roads, we need to provide that consistent funding, and, passing the budget at the beginning of every year," she said.
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia, 3rd District) voted yes on the continuing resolutions.
In a statement, he said: "While this Continuing Resolution (CR) is necessary to keep the federal government open in the short term, CRs are an expensive and wasteful solution that we should not continue to rely on. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that our government serves the American people effectively. Short-term funding resolutions hamstring federal agencies and our national defense by freezing their ability to award grants, sign contracts, and do any long-term planning.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia, 1st District) voted no on the continuing resolution.
In a statement, he said: “Doing something repeatedly that results in the same failures and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity. For far too long, Congress has used Continuing Resolutions as a complete abandonment of budgeting responsibly as Washington’s ‘budgeting by crisis’ mentality has steadily gotten worse. Rather than buckling down and getting spending bills done on time, Congress has yet again kicked the can down the road through a short-term solution to a long-term problem. This is no way to govern."
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Defense has started 11 of the last 12 fiscal years under a continuing resolution.