Stopgap won't hurt Pentagon, officials say

Defense officials believe a temporary stopgap government funding measure will not have negative impacts on the Pentagon budget as long as it only lasts several days.

Lawmakers are working around the clock to finish an omnibus spending bill, but due to Senate procedures, the bill would not likely be done by Jan. 15, when existing funding for the government runs out.

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That would mean a short continuing resolution would be needed to keep the government from being shut down.

A defense official said a the continuing resolution would be problematic if it were to last several weeks or a full year, becuse no new defense construction projects, acquisitions or contracts could be started.

The official added that the 2013 defense budget, at about $496 billion, is roughly the same as 2014’s expected $497 billion budget, so the amount of actual spending will not be dramatically different. 

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip Esper given horse in Mongolia as US looks for new inroads against China MORE said Wednesday that $6 billion in cuts to working-age military retiree pensions would likely be addressed later in the year, after congressional hearings and recommendations from a commission appointed to reform military benefits overall.

“Based on our numbers here and our actuaries on this ... it’s going to be very difficult to sustain the entire pay, compensation, retirement package we have without having it impact significantly our technology and research accounts and our readiness and just bringing our forces down and our assets down,” Hagel said at a press briefing at the Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M. 

Hagel said he hoped to reach some sort of resolution on reform within the next three years, but did not comment on whether an imminent fix would come in the omnibus spending bill. A third of the members of Congress have backed bills to restore the cuts.

Senators have indicated that it’s likely the $600 million in cuts to medically retired service members’ pensions would be restored. But as of Thursday, it was still unclear whether that fix would be in the omnibus bill or in separate legislation later in the year.