Debate on Authorization Bill Reaches House Floor
The House began debate on the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill Tuesday with votes on up to 150 amendments scheduled to start today.
The debate gets underway in the wake of a White House statement threatening to veto the measure over provisions related to a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the president’s authority to implement the New START Treaty limiting nuclear weapons, and the detention and prosecution of alleged terrorists.
Debate in the House is expected to last until Thursday or later.
The Statement of Administration Policy listed a host of provisions in H.R. 1540 beyond the ones it singled out that the administration objects to but that fall short of prompting a veto threat. The statement mentioned provisions limiting the defense secretary’s discretion to carry out changes to force structure, including one requiring the Navy to maintain a minimum force of 10 aircraft carrier air wings and a dedicated headquarters for each. DOD is proposing to reduce the number of carrier air wings from 10 to nine, a move estimated to save $22 million over five years.
The White House opposes language intended to close a loophole allowing DOD to bypass statutory requirements to notify Congress when realigning a mission outside of a BRAC round. The provision would eliminate the department’s ability to reduce the workforce below 1,000 civilians at an installation it planned to realign before carrying out the realignment in an attempt to avoid complying with statutory reporting requirements.
The administration did not object to language allowing DOD to extend by one year the implementation deadline for up to seven BRAC recommendations.
A list of proposed amendments is available on the Armed Services Committee’s website.