Nevertheless, the dire warnings from Odierno and McHugh underscored the uncertainty facing the Army and the rest of the military as it grapples with the possibility that sequester is here to stay.
"In short, we're forced to rob Peter to pay Paul, and then Paul got furloughed,” McHugh said in his keynote address starting off the conference Monday.
The Army leaders’ comments highlight the pessimism emanating from the defense world that any relief is coming due to the uncertainty and the ill-planned budget cuts under sequestration.
The next round of sequestration is set to begin in January, the same time the continuing resolution that passed last week to re-open the government expires, but there’s few signs yet that some sort of sequestration relief for the Pentagon would be able to pass Congress, even as a bicameral budget is set.
Despite the budget pessimism, the AUSA conference did exceed registration figures compared to last year, with more than 25,000 pre-registered, according to a spokesman.
Frelinghuysen in line for defense panel chair: There does not appear to be a fight brewing in the Appropriations Committee over who should succeed Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who died on Friday, as the Defense Appropriations subcommittee chairman.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) is expected to succeed Young, who served 22 terms in Congress, according to defense and congressional sources.
Frelinghuysen, currently chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee, is now the longest-serving Republican on the Defense Appropriations subpanel.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who is also on the Defense subcommittee, has more seniority on the full Appropriations panel. But Kingston is running for Senate and is not expected to challenge Frelinghuysen for the chairmanship, according to a House GOP aide.
House out of session Thursday for Young funeral: The House will be out of session on Thursday so members can attend Rep. Bill Young’s (R-Fla.) funeral.
Young, 82, died on Friday at Walter Reed Medical Center due to complications from an injury.
The former full Appropriations chairman and Defense Appropriations subcommittee chairman served 22 terms in Congress, making him the longest-serving Republican in the history of the House.
A public funeral for Young will be held Thursday afternoon in Largo, Fla.
VA backlog dropped during shutdown: There was lots of fighting over what occurred to government functions like parks and monuments during the government shutdown, but one potential repercussion at the Department of Veterans Affairs did not come to fruition.
The VA disability claims backlog has dropped by more than 10,000 claims from Sept. 30 through the first three weeks of October, according to weekly data released by the VA Monday.
The claims backlog — for claims pending for more than 125 days — is now at 411,704 claims, down from 421,793 in September.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki had warned that progress had stalled on the backlog because of the shutdown, as mandatory overtime was suspended.
VA officials said that the backlog reduction was hampered as a result, and noted that the claims backlog mostly flat-lined from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16.
Mandatory overtime is back, along with government operations, through at least Nov. 16.
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