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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

McCain Pledges Speedy Conference Agreement on Policy Bill

  • June 19, 2015
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A House-Senate compromise on the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill could be wrapped up in a matter of weeks, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters Thursday shortly after the Senate passed its version of the annual policy bill. “I am totally convinced we can get the bill back out of conference in July, and probably early July,” McCain said. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of House Armed Services, has made similar comments indicating a quick timeline to reconciling the two chamber’s versions is likely. “There are not significant differences,” McCain said, reported CQ. “Our reforms go quite a bit further than those in the House bill, but I have a very close working relationship with the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and I’m confident we can resolve those differences and resolve them quickly …

Senate Democrats Make Their Stand on Defense Spending Bill

  • June 19, 2015
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Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked the chamber from starting debate on the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill, the first step in a strategy designed to force Republicans to enter talks to raise the Budget Control Act spending caps. The chamber’s 50-45 vote fell 10 votes short of the 60 votes need to proceed to the $575 billion measure and left uncertain how Congress would enact spending bills for the next fiscal year. The Democrats’ risky move had been expected, as party leaders had threatened in recent weeks to filibuster appropriations bills that either stick to the spending caps or shield the Pentagon from the budget limits while ignoring domestic agencies. The defense measure stashes $38 billion of funding beyond the Obama administration’s request in the department’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to get around the statutory spending cap …

Senate Approves Authorization Bill Early

  • June 19, 2015
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The Senate on Thursday passed a defense authorization bill for the first time in three years, an achievement that should pave the way for Congress to reach agreement on a compromise measure well before the new fiscal year. The Senate’s failure to pass the annual policy bill in each of the two previous years prevented the House and Senate from convening a formal conference committee to hash out a final version of the legislation. Instead, the chairmen and ranking members of the two Armed Services panels held informal talks to reach a compromise. “This is how the Senate should operate — regular order, on time, giving our military the certainty they need to plan and execute their missions,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain …

Monterey Steps up Effort to Defend Area Installations

  • June 19, 2015
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The city of Monterey, Calif., on Tuesday approved a contract to hire a Washington-area consultant to craft a strategy to prevent possible closure of the Presidio of Monterey or the Naval Postgraduate School. “The need will almost inevitably arise when we need to defend these institutions,” said Deputy City Manager Dino Pick, who led the effort to hire Public Private Solutions Group. David Spauer, the county’s economic development director, also supported the proposal before the city council. “This first and essential step is extremely necessary,” Spauer said, reported the Monterey Herald. “When [the analysis] is completed, it will set the groundwork we will need to talk to the Navy, to the Pentagon, other legislators, on the strength of our area and our assets …

Eastern Washington Leaders Raise Alarm over Casino Project

  • June 19, 2015
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Lawmakers in Eastern Washington and other advocates for Fairchild Air Force Base are hoping to convince Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to block the Spokane Tribe’s plan to build a resort and casino under the path of training flights from the installation, after the U.S. Interior Department this week approved the project following a two-year review. Any possible encroachment issue could hurt Fairchild in a future BRAC round, area leaders said. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) told the Spokesman-Review she plans to call Inslee and urge him to reject the plan. The Republican congresswoman said she supports the tribe’s efforts for economic development but opposes the location because, in her opinion, “Fairchild comes first …

Senate Removes Commissary Privatization Program from Defense Bill

  • June 18, 2015
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The Senate on Wednesday stripped from the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill language directing the Defense Department to privatize up to five commissaries through a two-year pilot program. Lawmakers also passed a second procedural vote to end debate on the annual policy bill, setting up a final vote for passage which likely will take place Thursday. The 84-14 vote also signaled the Democrats’ decision not to filibuster the authorization bill over its reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations account to exceed the Budget Control Act spending caps. Instead, Senate Democrats will resume that fight over the defense spending bill. The party is expected to block a vote, which could come today, to debate the spending measure in the Senate …

Veto Threat is Real, White House Press Secretary Says

  • June 18, 2015
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President Obama will veto the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill absent a deal that provides budget relief to domestic agencies, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday. Earnest’s response to a reporter’s question represents a somewhat stiffer threat than the typical language the Office of Management and Budget uses in objecting to legislation, namely that the president’s “senior advisers would recommend” a veto, reported CQ. Earnest described several reasons why Obama would veto the defense spending bill unless the budget caps were lifted for non-defense agencies. “One is that the funding mechanism that Republicans have floated is one that many leading Republicans have previously described as nothing more than a gimmick …

Washington Governor Prepares for Downsizing at JBLM

  • June 18, 2015
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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Wednesday directed a new state committee to craft plans to mitigate a reduction of up to 11,000 soldiers and Army civilians at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “These are people who are going to need us in coming months by the thousands,” Inslee said. The governor expects the Army to announce next week how it will realign its forces as it eliminates up to 70,000 soldiers by fiscal 2020, reported the News Tribune. The Army would not confirm that it will announce its second round of force reductions next week, but officials recently have been advising congressional staff and local government leaders that a decision is coming, according to the story …

DOD Selects Partner for Hybrid Wind-Solar Project at Ft. Hood

  • June 18, 2015
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Defense Logistics Agency Energy, in conjunction with the Army, this week selected Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex Clean Energy for a large-scale renewable energy project that will rely on an onsite solar component along with energy generated at a wind farm located 350 miles away. The hybrid project will feature a 15-megawatt (alternating current) photovoltaic solar plant at the central Texas post and 50.6 megawatts (alternating current) of wind energy from the firm’s Cotton Plains wind energy facility on the Texas Panhandle. The project will be micro-grid capable, according to a fact sheet from the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives. “We’re excited to partner with Apex Clean Energy in this first-of-its-kind hybrid project,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment …

Amid Diversification, Goodyear Continues to Leverage Presence of Luke AFB

  • June 18, 2015
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The city of Goodyear, a suburb of Phoenix located close by Luke Air Force Base, is trying to recruit a mix of civilian and defense companies to take over a 500,000-square-foot aerospace campus no longer used by Lockheed Martin. Goodyear had enjoyed an extended run as an aerospace hub since World War II, when it began to build military aircraft, before shifting to dirigibles and surveillance systems. That activity started to wind down in 2009, and when sequestration hit in 2013 Lockheed cut its workforce from 600 to 50, reported National Defense. “We would like to recruit more aviation, aerospace and cyber security companies,” said Harry Paxton, Goodyear’s economic development project manager …

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