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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Resolution to Budget Dispute Not Coming Soon, Republicans Indicate

  • May 3, 2015
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In the face of calls from the White House for bipartisan talks to lift the statutory spending caps, senior Republicans say any negotiations will need to wait until the fiscal 2016 appropriations process plays itself out. After the White House issued veto threats on two appropriations bills considered by the House last week — including the military construction-veterans affairs spending measure — the Obama administration and congressional Republicans appear to be on a collision course. The statements from the Office of Management and Budget indicated that President Obama would not sign any spending bills that follow congressional Republicans’ plan to stick to the Budget Control Act levels while providing relief only to the Pentagon by stashing tens of billions of additional dollars in its war account …

New Effort Advances to Ease HUBZone Requirements at BRAC Sites

  • May 3, 2015
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The House Armed Services Committee last week added language to the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill that would make it easier for tenants located at closed installations to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s HUBZone program, the first step in the most recent effort by Maine’s congressional delegation to support the reuse project at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin sponsored the amendment which would allow a business to qualify for the HUBZone program — an initiative offering preferential access to federal procurements to businesses in distressed areas — if 35 percent of its employees live within a 25-mile radius of the closed installation. BRAC installations currently are designated as HUBZones for five years after they are formally closed. For a particular business to qualify for the program, however, 35 percent of its employees must live on the closed base, a threshold that is virtually unattainable …

Congress Close to Clearing FY’16 Budget Resolution

  • May 3, 2015
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The House adopted the fiscal 2016 conference budget resolution last Thursday, a compromise that strips out a procedural hurdle that could have blocked the Senate from allocating tens of billions of extra dollars included in DOD’s war account. To evade the $523 billion Budget Control Act cap on national security spending, the budget blueprints advanced in both the House and Senate allot $96 billion — including $58 billion requested by the Obama administration and $38 billion in extra funds — to the department’s overseas contingency operations account. That account is not subject to the budget caps …

Sierra Vista Continues to Struggle following Cutbacks at Ft. Huachuca

  • May 3, 2015
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The impact of the loss of thousands of military and civilian personnel at Fort Huachuca in southeastern Arizona over the past several years continues to hobble the city of Sierra Vista, according to a presentation at the annual Sierra Vista Economic Outlook luncheon. Including the employment of defense contractors, the area lost about 4,000 jobs over the last five years stemming from cutbacks at the installation. “In recent years, Fort Huachuca has been the primary reason for the county-wide economic downturn, and that’s due to cuts in defense and war-related spending,” said Robert Carreira, director of the Center for Economic Research at Cochise College …

Veterans Strengthen Communities’ Civic Fabric, Survey Finds

  • May 3, 2015
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Contrary to the prevailing stereotype of veterans as having difficulty coping when they re-enter civilian society, a new survey reveals that veterans have greater civic involvement than non-veterans. Veterans are three times as likely as non-veterans to be involved in civic groups, and are more likely to vote, contact public officials and help neighbors than their counterparts who did not serve in the military, according to the study. “It’s important for all of us to provide counterpoints to the misconceptions we have been told for years and years,” said Army veteran Chris Marvin, managing director of nonprofit Got Your Six …

GOP Plan to Rely on OCO Funds to Boost Defense Spending Survives House Vote

  • April 30, 2015
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The House on Thursday passed the fiscal 2016 military construction-veterans affairs spending bill, after a bipartisan effort to bar the use of funds from DOD’s overseas contingency operations account for non-war spending nearly upset Republicans’ plans to rely on the department’s war account to sidestep the statutory caps on the defense budget. Instead, Republican leaders were able to overcome support for three amendments introduced by Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) that would have collectively eliminated $532 million in military construction funding allocated through the OCO. Appropriators added the funds to the department’s war account, which isn’t subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps, as part of the GOP strategy to use the OCO as a relief valve for defense spending that doesn’t fit under the $523 billion cap on national security funds …

Panel Votes to Rescue A-10 Fleet before Completing Authorization Bill Markup

  • April 30, 2015
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After more than 18 hours of deliberations, the House Armed Services Committee early Thursday morning approved the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill by a 60-2 vote. The legislation, which authorizes $523 billion in national security spending and $89 billion in funding for DOD’s overseas contingency operations account, now heads to the House floor later this month, reported the Hill. The measure rejects a number of cost-cutting reforms proposed by the Pentagon, including a request to hold a BRAC round in 2017, plans to trim support for commissaries and housing allowances for troops, and retiring the A-10 close air support jet …

Milcon Spending Bill includes Missile Site, BRAC Amendments

  • April 30, 2015
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House lawmakers approved two amendments of interest to defense communities — one that would provide funding for an East Coast missile defense site and one that would prohibit a new BRAC round — as part of the fiscal 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill the chamber approved Thursday. Language allocating $30 million for the planning, design and construction of an East Coast missile defense site was offered by freshman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y), whose district includes Fort Drum. Last year, the Defense Department said it would prepare environmental impact statements at four locations, including Fort Drum, N.Y., to determine a potential site to host ground-based interceptors to protect the East Coast …

BRAC Needed Now, Bipartisan Coalition of Defense Experts Tells Congress

  • April 30, 2015
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Citing rising threats around the globe and a military force declining in size and capability, a bipartisan coalition of 38 defense experts is urging congressional leaders to close unneeded bases, right-size the civilian workforce and modernize military pay and benefits. “Too much of the defense budget is currently consumed by institutional inefficiencies, some of which are mandated by law,” the experts wrote in an open letter to the defense committees and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “As the U.S. military shrinks, it must reduce its inventory of physical infrastructure. Smaller budgets can no longer support paying for the operation of unnecessary facilities,” the letter states …

Obama Defers Judgement on Key Military Compensation Reforms

  • April 30, 2015
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President Obama is withholding judgement on the most controversial recommendations of an independent panel to update military pay and benefits, he told Congress Thursday. One of the most significant reforms urged by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission would transform the existing pension plan that only pays benefit to personnel serving at least 20 years to a hybrid system that would allow troops serving at least two years to invest in a 401(k)-type plan. Interestingly, the House Armed Services Committee early Thursday morning approved language adopting the commission’s recommendation as part of its fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill …

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