Pentagon chief urges Congress to pass spending bill

Pentagon chief urges Congress to pass spending bill
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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is calling for Congress to pass a 2016 government spending bill before a Friday deadline, instead of a short-term spending measure that would simply extend 2015 funding levels.  

"At a time when our security environment demands a dynamic and agile military, it is vital that negotiations on Capitol Hill arrive at an agreement to fund all of government for the remainder of the fiscal year, consistent with the funding levels set in the budget agreement achieved earlier this year," Carter said in a statement. 

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The Pentagon chief's comments come as progress in the House on a spending measure has stalled, with Republicans indicating that a short-term spending bill will be necessary before Friday in order to keep the government running.  

Officials fear a short-term spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, could be extended for a full year, leaving the Pentagon short of expected funding in 2016. 

"Further delaying such funding will do real harm. As I have said before, a continuing resolution is a straitjacket for the Department of Defense," said Carter. "It prevents us from fielding a modern, ready force in a balanced way, while embracing reform to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is well spent. 

"It harms our ability to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIL and to confront the many complex national security challenges around the world. Failure to act sends the wrong message to our troops, our allies and our enemies," Carter said, using the administration's preferred acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

Democrats said a deal was nearly at hand, until Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to link it to another measure to renew a slate of expired tax breaks.

Republicans have raised the possibility of working through the weekend to pass a spending bill. 

"There will be ample opportunities for extraneous policy fights in the future, but at this time, Congress must set aside such fights and prioritize our security by funding all of government," Carter said.