The renewed threat of a federal government shutdown once again brings to the forefront the systemic failure of the existing Congressional budget process and the dysfunction in Washington. As Congress struggles to pass a fifth stop-gap spending bill, or continuing resolution for this fiscal year, to keep the doors of federal offices open and paychecks in the bank accounts of our military members and federal employees, it becomes impossible to ignore the effect the gridlock in D.C. has around the country.
The reliance on an ad-hoc system of budgeting in Congress has significant real-world consequences which are felt here in our community by our airmen and their families, by the critical military and humanitarian missions that take place at Travis, and by our national security structure. Our request is simple: let’s finally build a long-term, bipartisan budget and appropriations deal that provides the certainty our civil servants and those who serve in uniform deserve.
As Defense Secretary James Mattis remarked in testimony this week before the House Armed Services Committee, a year of continuing resolutions for the Defense Department will prevent the Pentagon from paying troops and hinder recruitment, equipment maintenance and acquisition programs. Under continuing resolutions, the Pentagon will not be able to pay troops by the end of the fiscal year and will not be able to recruit 15,000 Army soldiers and 4,000 Air Force airmen to fill shortfalls. "I cannot overstate the impact to our troops' morale from all this uncertainty,"
Secretary Mattis said. America has the finest military in the world and the current budget situation has a palpable impact on the confidence of our armed forces. They deserve better than a system that can’t reliably support their efforts.
Just the possibility of a government shutdown and further government funding uncertainty have tangible adverse effects on the men and women at Travis, the community that supports them, and the entire military force structure. We were very pleased when the Air Force selected Travis in 2017 as the location for the fourth Main Operating Base for the next-generation refueling tanker, the KC-46A Pegasus, and that Travis would be receiving at least 24 of these aircraft.
With the bed-down of the KC-46, Travis will be the home of the Air Mobility Command’s premier weapon systems with the C-5M Super Galaxy, the C-17 Globemaster III, and the KC-46 – this is a unique capability that no other base in the Command can claim. But with an unstable budget environment, our military is faced with an inability to conduct long-term planning or procurement, nor are they able to start the critical military construction projects that will support the bed-down of the KC-46 and the continued military and humanitarian missions that Travis carries out on a routine basis. To make matters worse, shutdowns end up costing the military (and taxpayer) more in the long run since the Air Force can’t execute multiyear procurement programs which significantly drive down costs.
The Travis Community Consortium (TCC) has been active in advocating for Congress to return to conducting business under traditional, regular order and a common-sense approach to governance. We strongly support any effort to provide funding to the government beyond a short-term, stopgap approach that does little but put a band-aid on the growing self-inflicted wound caused by nearly half a dozen temporary funding bills. We will continue to fight for a restoration of civility and traditional legislative methods to support our nation’s security and federal programs critical to communities like ours around the country.
The Travis Community Consortium is an advocacy group of local civic leaders from government, business and community organizations whose purpose is to promote the needs of Travis Air Force Base and its people.