>> In Illinois, a renovated federal prison stands ready to take in thousands of inmates and hire hundreds of guards, if only Congress would approve their salaries. In Florida, the Coast Guard patrols the waters off President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, but it doesn't have any money to cover those costs.
>> I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington where everybody's nervously watching Congress to see if they'll approve yet another temporary spending measure before funding expires on Friday night. That would head off the possibility of a damaging shut down. But it would only make the underlying problem worse. The federal government's been operating for months now on an outdated budget plan because Congress has failed to pass the detailed spending bills that cover everything from nuclear weapons development, to prisons, to public housing.
Congress is supposed to pass these spending bills before the start of the fiscal year on October 1st, but it rarely does. In the meantime, lawmakers keep the government running by carrying over the prior year's spending plan. But that means the Pentagon doesn't know how much money it has to order up new submarines.
The FBI doesn't know whether it can hire new agents. And your local homeless shelter doesn't know how much money it will have to help people off the streets. And the Justice Department can't open that Illinois prison that's ready to accept thousands of maximum security inmates. They're waiting for Congress to sign off on the final $80 million needed to get the place up and running.
It also leads to wasteful spending as government agencies can't place bulk orders with contractors. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer says the stopgap spending has cost taxpayers an extra $4 billion over the past few years. Defense Secretary James Mattis weighed in on Friday.>> No enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the US military then the combined impact of the Budget Control Act's defense spending cuts.
Worsened by us operating in nine of the last ten years under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars.>> The Pentagon has not been afraid to talk about this issue but other government agencies have been reluctant to speak up. At this point they're just hoping that Congress won't shut them down over the weekend.
Getting law makers to sign off on a full year spending plan that should have been in place four months ago seems like a distant hope at this point.