>> Congress can't pass a budget on time, and the Pentagon says America's fighting forces are paying the price. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where lawmakers are months behind schedule as they try to write a trillion dollar spending bill. This, by itself, isn't news. Congress blows this deadline pretty much every year.
January 19th is their latest target date. That's nearly four months late. But when it comes to national security, these delays have real costs. Everything from shipbuilding to live fire exercises gets pushed back or put on hold. Military leaders say that the end result is a fighting force that's less ready and less well equipped.
These temporary budget deals are known as continuing resolutions in Washington speak. And they allow lawmakers to avoid a government shutdown while they finish their work. But the problem is these short-term extensions don't allow government agencies like the Pentagon to start new projects, or transfer money where it's most needed.
This year, the delay is interfering with the planned military rebuilding effort backed by President Trump. After more than 15 years of war, Pentagon leaders say they need to fix worn out airplanes and restock missiles and bombs being dropped on Islamic State. Congress has approved these efforts, but they haven't yet allocated the money to get them done.
Back in September, Defense Secretary James Mattis told Congress that a three-month budget delay could have a permanent impact. New weapon systems cancelled, training exercises scaled back. Marines might not get a chance to practice shooting their weapons in battlefield conditions, while Air Force pilots would have less time in the air.
Mattis said the Navy would have to postpone maintenance of 11 of its ships, meaning a smaller fleet for years to come and possible layoffs at shipyards. It's not just the Pentagon that's hit by inaction on Capitol Hill. Medical research has been scaled back as well. But the costs are most vivid when it comes to national security.
If the military can't rebuild in the way that it has planned, Mattis has warned that that can lead to more deaths on the battlefield in the years to come.