March Madness: Wasteful Budget Delays Continue to Threaten Your Pay, Benefits

March Madness: Wasteful Budget Delays Continue to Threaten Your Pay, Benefits
Rudy Sulgan/Getty Images

The ongoing battle to pass a timely budget – one that would fund the all-volunteer force and provide the service-earned benefits championed by MOAA and fellow advocacy groups – hits several milestones in March, with the calendar providing a useful snapshot of the current system’s failures.


[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Lawmakers to Pass a Budget]

  • On March 1, the first of two continuing resolutions keeping the federal government open is set to expire. If Congress does not act before this date, funds for military construction projects and VA health care and benefit programs, along with many other federal programs, will dry up.

  • On March 8, the second such resolution hits its deadline. With no congressional action, funds would run out for the rest of the federal government, to include DoD.

  • On March 11, the White House plans to publish its FY 2025 budget request, doing so more than a month after the established filing deadline (a delay that has become more common in recent years).


So, in a span of 11 days at winter’s end, Congress will face another scramble to avoid a federal shutdown connected to a budget that should have been passed six months earlier, then move onto discussing next year’s spending request from the administration … which lawmakers should have received in early February.


MOAA members have sent more than 13,000 messages to their lawmakers about the current budget cycle alone, adding their voices to our advocates on Capitol Hill who are working to improve this dysfunctional process. MOAA has engaged with both legislators and administration officials on the need to move faster and meet critical deadlines. That pressure needs to continue because of what’s at stake if these costly behaviors continue.


NDAA Delays

Without a budget, any progress made on behalf of those who serve and have served, and their families and survivors, in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) goes unfunded. The NDAA only provides authorization for these improvements, not the money to make them a reality.


While some measures will receive funding through other means – the annual pay raise, for example – many others must wait until full budget bills take effect. This includes any new programs, which can’t begin under continuing resolutions.


[RELATED: TRICARE For Life, Star Act, Housing Help Will Anchor MOAA’s Spring Advocacy Push]


DoD Waste

While lawmakers can’t agree on a budget, there is bipartisan agreement on the billions of dollars wasted by continuing legislation.


First, misaligned funds can’t be moved into deserving programs without a full budget in place, as continuing resolutions keep the money flowing into projects earmarked for cancelation or downsizing. A full-year delay would put tens of billions of dollars into this category; the Navy’s comptroller said his service alone would see “a $26 billion hit” in misaligned funds in that instance.


Second, federal personnel must spend untold hours reworking budgets to accommodate these resolutions, as well as to prepare for a potential government shutdown. This staff time could be used to address the many needs of the all-volunteer force; instead, it has and will continue to be used to shuffle figures between accounts and come up with various contingency plans tied to potential congressional inaction.


Shutdown Threat

Servicemembers will report for duty even if federal funding lapses, but they’d do so without compensation – Congress has not passed pay protections for this budget cycle, as it did during previous shutdown scenarios.


And while retiree paychecks would continue for most who’ve left uniform, U.S. Public Health Service and NOAA retirees aren’t covered by the Military Retirement Fund and would not receive checks during a funding lapse.


[RELATED: MOAA's Digital Retirement Guide]


Make Your Voice Heard

Lawmakers will look to hear from their constituents during this election cycle, and MOAA members should take that opportunity to insist on changes to this broken budget process. Send a message to your legislators today through MOAA’s Legislative Action Center, and then spread the word (and the link) through your social media channels – membership isn’t required to sign up and use the service.


Thank you for your help as MOAA works to ensure these delays don’t eat away at the value of service-earned benefits or weaken the support system of the all-volunteer force. Stay up to date on other MOAA priorities via our Advocacy News page.


MOAA Fights for You

Get involved and make sure your interests are addressed.


Related Content

About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on X: @KRLilley