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Congress poised to let Pentagon start programs before budget passes

December 11, 2023

Stephen Losey


An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron takes off for a flight in support of U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Oct. 16, 2023. The Air Force hopes "quickstart" legislative proposal included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act will allow it to begin work on Project Venom, a program to modify F-16s to fly themselves, before a budget is passed. (Senior Airman Wyatt Stabler/Air Force)


By Stephen Losey, DefenseNews / December 11, 2023

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department would get limited authority to start working on urgent new programs before they are officially funded under a provision in the proposed fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

This legislative proposal, which the Air Force has strongly backed and refers to as “quickstart,” would allow services to start new programs or speed up existing efforts without Congress formally approving them. It’s meant to address the lengthy periods of time lost while services wait for lawmakers to pass their budgets — times during which the military can’t get started on new programs.

The final version of the NDAA, which House and Senate lawmakers hashed out in conference last week, would cap at $100 million the spending allowed under this proposal. That is a combined total for all of the military services and comes in lower than the $300 million included in the original proposal Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall backed earlier this year.

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