President Donald Trump is correct to warn that a government shutdown would harm the military — but the short-term spending deal he’s pledged to sign would also hamper the Pentagon’s readiness and delay his promised military buildup.
Former Pentagon officials say closing the government and extending existing spending are both bad options, and that it’s difficult to say one is clearly worse than the other. That’s because the nearly four months of continuing resolutions that have kept the government running since Oct. 1 have locked 2017 funding levels in place — blocking the Defense Department from starting any new programs or asking Congress to shift money into higher-priority needs.
“The badness of a shutdown smacks you in the face, it happens suddenly and all at once, whereas the badness that results from a continuing resolution manifests itself slowly over time,” said Susanna Blume, who helped manage the 2013 shutdown as a senioradviser in the office of the Defense undersecretary for policy.
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