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Defense Official Says Shutdown Worse Than Continuing Resolution

Congress has until the end of this week to fund the federal government or agree on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded. Absent either of those actions, the government will shut down starting Oct. 1. 

An airplane flies above an airplane on a runway.
Barksdale Ops
An Air Force B-1B Lancer flies above a B-52H Stratofortress at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. , Nov. 6, 2022,
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Kate Bragg
VIRIN: 221106-F-ML790-2071

A CR would be "bad," but a shutdown would be "horrible," said William A. LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. 

LaPlante spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' International Security Program. 

"If the government shuts down, testing [of systems] will stop and acceptance by the government of equipment when it is finished and ready to be accepted [could] stop," he said. 

For example, in 2013, during the government shutdown, factory workers were sent home. Production lines on things like munitions and the F-35 Lightning II stealth multirole combat aircraft stopped. 

A missile is launched into the air.
Missile Launch
A PAC-3 missile is test-fired at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., July 16, 2018.
Photo By: John Hamilton, Army
VIRIN: 180716-A-UY615-256A

Next week, the Defense Department has some testing to do for an item it has earmarked for Ukraine, he said. 

"Unless we can get some type of a waiver, it's not going to happen," he said. 

Also, people are not going to be able to travel to work on acquisition and sustainment projects, "so, it's just extremely disruptive," he said. 

"The message it sends to the government workforce is, we're sending people home, our engineers, our acquisition professionals, our sustainers our contracting officers, we're just sending them home and saying you're not essential," LaPlante said. 

The other option is for Congress to pass a continuing resolution. CRs maintain the previously appropriated year's level of funding for federal programs for a specified period of time. 

A submarine moves through a body of water.
Harbor Departure
The fast attack submarine USS Charlotte departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, June 2, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Chief Petty Officer Amy Biller
VIRIN: 220602-N-SS492-1028

In the case of a CR, any increases in production are not going to happen without a special waiver, he said. 

In past CRs, this negatively impacted production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and Patriot surface-to-air missile systems, he said.  

Both of those systems have been sent to Ukraine. 

LaPlante noted that China, which is the department's pacing challenge, never has continuing resolutions or government shutdowns. 

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