WASHINGTON — The $2 trillion stimulus package proposed by the Senate on Wednesday includes language that would allow senior military officials to remain in place even after crossing their planned retirement dates.
The language, located in section 13007 of the bill, would allow President Donald Trump to keep Gen. David Goldfein, the chief of staff of the Air Force, as well as several other high-ranking officers in office for 270 days to help ensure continuity while dealing with the new coronavirus pandemic.
The law would apply to:
- Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff
- Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations
- Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau
- Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, chief of the Army Reserve
- Vice Adm. Luke McCollum, chief of the Navy Reserve
- Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, director of the Army National Guard
- Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, director of the Air National Guard
Trump may delegate the authority to keep those individuals in place to his defense secretary, Mark Esper.
In addition, the Senate bill would waive restrictions on undefinitized contracts related to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as remove limits on other transaction authority contracts related to the virus; both are attempts to give greater flexibility to the Defense Department in dealing with the crisis.
Overall, the Pentagon is set to receive $10.5 billion in emergency funds as part of the Senate bill, which is expected to be supported by the House as well. That includes $1.4 billion in direct funding for National Guard deployments to help state governments respond to emerging health needs; $1.5 billion for the expansion of military hospitals and mobile medical centers if needed; and $1 billion for the Defense Department to help with the production of medical supplies that are running short because of the pandemic.
Leo Shane III with Military Times contributed to this report.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.