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Defense Department warns Democrats of ‘extensive inaction’ on spending bills

By Daniella Diaz, CNN

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sent four letters to top Democratic leaders asking them to pass a full-year government funding bill, writing in each letter that if they don’t it will “result in significant harm to our people and our programs and would cause harm to our national security and our competitiveness.”

Austin’s request comes as government funding is set to run out December 16, but lawmakers are hoping they can extend the stop-gap resolution for longer. The date the stop-gap measure will run until will need to be worked out between Democrats and Republicans.

He sent the identical letters to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont and House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

“We must break this pattern of extensive inaction,” he wrote in the letter. “We can’t outcompete China with our hands tied behind our back three, four, five or six months of every fiscal year.”

Democrats, who currently have the majorities in the House and Senate, are considering the Biden administration’s request to Congress that the next government funding bill include additional money for what it describes as “four critical needs,” including “support for Ukraine, Covid-19, monkeypox, and natural disaster recovery.”

This will likely define much of the battle over government funding legislation, which the request for critical needs will likely be attached to.

Politico first reported about the letters.

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CNN’s Clare Foran and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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