The U.S. Navy has warned that the Blue Angels may participate in fewer air shows in 2020 in the event that Congress fails to reach an agreement to avoid scheduled sequester-level budget caps by January.
Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer shared a report with Congress last week that estimates a “mechanical sequestration” — meaning automatic, across-the-board cuts to spending — would require the Blue Angels to drop 21 shows, Defense News reported.
The Blue Angels are currently slated for 61 demonstrations in 2019 and 56 demonstrations in 2020, according to the Blue Angels’ website. The estimate included in the report for Congress was based off the number of shows on deck for 2019.
Sequestration first took effect in 2013, in accordance with the Budget Control Act of 2011. Even so, Congress has been able to negotiate deals to mitigate the impact of the severe budget cuts.
But budget reductions will take effect in October 2019 for fiscal 2020, if Congress and President Trump fail to reach a deal to bypass the cuts.
Officials have warned that sequester-level budget caps wouldn’t just impact the Blue Angels and their air shows. Rather, they’ve cautioned that the budget caps would negatively impact the readiness of the U.S. military.
“If we were forced back to a sequestration level, it would be more than just the Blue Angels not doing air shows,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee earlier this month. “It would be units getting ready to deploy later, it would cause us to look at our force structure and have to make ourselves a smaller force.”
“This means we lose capacity, we have less presence around the world,” he said. “It would delay almost every single acquisition program we have underway, ground and air, to not just modernize but to create future capabilities for the force that we think we need to defend the interests of this nation.”
Spencer also claimed that a sequestration would be “devastating” to the Navy.
“This would just knock us flat down. If you look at what sequestration does, it is a $26 billion cut to the Department of the Navy,” Spencer told the panel. “It is devastating.”