In a memo sent to Congress today, Defense Secretary Ash Carter urged legislators to pass the Defense Department’s budget as quickly as possible and to avoid extending the continuing resolution, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said here today.
Carter sent the memo following reports that Congress was looking to pass a continuing resolution that would extend into May 2017, Cook told reporters during a scheduled news conference at the Pentagon.
“I am particularly troubled by information that Congress may be considering a CR through May,” Carter wrote in the letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “A short-term CR is bad enough, but a CR through May means DoD would have to operate under its constraints for two-thirds of the fiscal year. This is unprecedented and unacceptable, especially when we have so many troops operating in harm's way. I strongly urge Congress to reject this approach.”
Carter asked Congress to pass the department’s budget as quickly as possible to keep the time operating under a continuing resolution short. A continuing resolution means that current spending levels would continue and new projects and programs could not begin.
Budget Uncertainty Hurts Counterterrorism Efforts
The continuing resolution could also affect the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Cook said, adding that any reduction of effort “would be deeply unfortunate because we continue to achieve results in that fight.”
Carter received an update this morning from commanders in Iraq and Syria on the fight, the press secretary said. “They reported to him that in Mosul over the last week, Iraqi security forces had made careful but steady progress in tightening the noose around the city and pressuring ISIL on multiple fronts,” he said. “[Iraqi Counterterrorism Service forces] continue to lead the way from the east of the city. As was expected and as we and our Iraqi partners have said many times, this is not an easy fight, but it is a fight ISIL is losing.”
Cook praised Iraqi forces for their care to prevent civilian casualties in Mosul and said the coalition will continue to work closely with Iraqi forces as the campaign against the terror group continues.
In Syria, Syrian Democratic Forces are consolidating gains made in the first phase of the drive toward ISIL’s so-called capital of Raqqa. “The coalition continues to provide critical support to our partner forces in Syria and in Iraq, especially through the air, as we maintain maximum pressure on ISIL,” he said.
Continuing this progress will depend in part on a defense budget, the press secretary said. “We know that there's bipartisan support for our operations in overseas, particularly the fight against ISIL, our operations in Afghanistan, and so we remain certainly optimistic that we’ll be able to work this out with members of Congress,” Cook said.
Overall, a continuing resolution is not an efficient way for the department to operate, he said.
Cook said Carter sent Congress the memo because “there's obviously a limited time that Congress is here to take action on these matters. … Because of that, he felt it was important to send this message out and deliver … his view on this issue.”