Congress Hustling for a CR

Lawmakers are scrambling to put together a continuing resolution after Senate democrats abandoned their effort to pass a trillion dollar omnibus spending package for FY-11 containing $667.7 billion in defense funds.

Lawmakers are scrambling to put together a continuing resolution after Senate democrats abandoned their effort to pass a trillion dollar omnibus spending package for FY-11 containing $667.7 billion in defense funds, including $450 million for the F136 alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.

Appropriators are now scheduled to vote today on a continuing resolution likely to fund the the DoD through Feb. 18, according to one source.

This comes after Sen. Harry Reid announced last night that he was abandoning the omnibus effort, conceding that he couldn’t persuade enough republicans to approve the earmark-laden bill despite pleas from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to pass it.

Depending on the language in the CR, the Pentagon could see controversial projects like the F136 funded, or not.  If the CR states that funding levels are at FY-10 program, project or activity levels, the Pentagon and White House can push as much money into its programs as they want to, as long as the funding remains at or under FY-10 levels. However, the Pentagon and White House don’t want the F136, even though they seem to have softened their stance lately, backing off a longstanding threat to veto any legislation containing cash for the alternate engine.

This move also puts the Navy’s plan to buy a total of 20 Littoral Combat Ships of both classes on hold. Service officials were hoping that the omnibus would include senate permission for the Navy to buy both the Independence and the Freedom class LCS.

The Senate will now have to produce a separate bill giving the Navy the green light to buy both classes.