The good news: During recent budget resolution debates, Congress went on record saying the military needs more funding.
The bad news: That doesn’t really fix anything.
Under separate resolutions backed by the House and Senate, lawmakers offered no alternative to looming mandatory spending caps on defense programs, instead opting to work around the problem by boosting “off-the-books” overseas contingency funds by tens of billions of dollars.
For Pentagon planners, that compromise has been greeted with disappointed shrugs. Officials have been intensely lobbying for an end to the spending caps for months, gaining support from defense hawks in Congress but little traction with fiscal conservatives.
Not fixing sequestration leaves them with a long-term planning problem, and at least another year of lobbying to get all the money they insist they need. Still, they admit that having more funding in any form is better than having less.
For troops and their families, the bottom line remains more of the same uncertainty and waiting.
“We’re back in the same boat.” said Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “This is a one-year fix, and we’re right back at the fight again next year.”