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Posts Tagged ‘appropriations’

Senate Blocks Attempt to Restrict Use of OCO Funds

  • June 10, 2015
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In the most significant policy battle the Senate expects to face as it debates the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, the chamber on Tuesday rejected a Democratic effort to stop lawmakers from authorizing the use of tens of billions of dollars in extra war funds to sidestep the statutory spending caps in a 46-51 vote. Following the vote, it’s not clear whether Senate Democrats will try to block the annual policy bill, S. 1376, from advancing in the chamber. Afterwards, Democrats vowed to stop the GOP from going ahead with its strategy to offer the Pentagon budget relief while ignoring domestic agencies by blocking progress on spending bills …

Democrats’ Shutdown Talk Intended to Force GOP’s Hand

  • June 9, 2015
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An increasing number of senior Democratic lawmakers have been warning that the federal government is headed toward another shutdown when the new fiscal year begins as a result of the brewing dispute over fiscal 2016 spending. “We’re now kind of paddling down this river serenely when we all know there is this huge waterfall ahead. And if our Republican colleagues want to keep quietly paddling toward a government shutdown, that’s their choice,” Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee, said last week. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), ranking member on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, noted the similarities with the issues surrounding appropriations in FY 2014 when a partisan dispute resulted in a 16-day shutdown. “While not a mirror image of two years ago, the FY 2016 process is careening towards a similar fate …

White House Press Secretary Indicates There Is Room for a Budget Deal

  • June 7, 2015
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The White House would not insist on a tax hike to offset any budget relief offered as part of a prospective deal to relax the Budget Control Act spending caps, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday. Earnest noted that the December 2013 Ryan-Murray agreement — which provided DOD a total of $31 billion in spending above the caps in FY 2014 and 2015 — did not include a tax hike when he was asked about not insisting on a tax increase as a prerequisite for a budget deal. “What we have said is that that is the model that should be pursued,” he said, reported CQ Roll Call. The 2013 agreement did include some fees, however …

Senate Debate on Authorization Bill Marked by Quarrel over Budget Caps

  • June 5, 2015
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The possibility that Senate Democrats may filibuster the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill loomed over a debate Thursday stuck on the dispute over the measure’s heavy reliance on DOD’s war account to sidestep stringent spending caps. While some Democrats have indicated they will try to stop appropriations measures from advancing in the Senate, they have not yet settled on a strategy for the annual defense policy bill, reported CQ Roll Call. The authorization bill employs the House-Senate budget framework that adds $38 billion to the department’s overseas contingency operations account, which is exempt from the caps, to meet the Pentagon’s base budget request …

Battle Lines Drawn over Commissary Funding

  • June 4, 2015
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The fiscal 2016 defense spending bill approved Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee would restore $322 million DOD had proposed to cut from the Defense Commissary Agency’s budget as an initial step to scaling back the federal subsidy for military grocery stores. The cuts would force U.S. commissaries to be operated more like a business, forcing them to reduce customer discounts, as well as trim staff, store hours and the days stores are open. The Senate Armed Services Committee, however, adopted the department’s proposal to slash funding for commissaries in its draft FY 2016 defense authorization bill, raising the chances that the two chambers will need to find a compromise when they hash out next year’s defense budget …

Defense Spending Bill Advances in House

  • June 2, 2015
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The House Appropriations Committee approved a $579 billion defense spending bill on Tuesday after rejecting a Democratic attempt to overturn the measure’s use of DOD’s war account to get around the Budget Control Act spending caps. An amendment offered by Rep. Peter Visclosky would have moved $38 billion placed in DOD’s overseas contingency operations account to its base budget. The GOP added those funds to the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request for the war account, boosting it to $88 billion. “The overseas contingency fund has exploded beyond any reasonable measure of what a contingency fund should be,” said Rep. Barbara Lee …

OMB Chief Rips GOP’s Resort to ‘Budget Gimmicks’

  • June 2, 2015
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Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan on Monday reiterated the administration’s concerns about the Republicans’ strategy for bypassing the statutory spending caps by stashing extra funds in the Defense Department’s war account, in a letter to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The letter was timed to coincide with Tuesday’s markup of the committee’s fiscal 2016 defense spending bill. Donovan said the administration has “serious concerns about this legislation, which would underfund these important investments in the base budget and instead rely on budget gimmicks that have been criticized by members of both parties. The legislation also includes highly problematic riders and provisions that would preclude needed reforms …

Size of Army to Remain Unsettled for Several Years, Odierno Says

  • May 31, 2015
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Gen. Ray Odierno had hoped the Obama administration and Congress could have settled on a final end strength for the Army by the time he steps down as the Army’s chief of staff this fall, but the issue likely will remain undecided for several more years, he told reporters last week. “I thought by now we would have had that resolved,” said Odierno. “That was a major thing I wish I could’ve had done so the new chief could focus on continuing to move the Army forward, but he’s still going to have to deal with this issue for at least two or three more years,” he said, reported Army Times. The Army already is slated to shrink its active-duty end strength to 490,000 soldiers by Sept. 30, with further reductions cutting the force to 450,000 over the next few years …

Milcon Panel Praises DOD’s Energy Initiatives

  • May 31, 2015
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The Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee commends the Defense Department for its efforts to invest in renewable energy projects and energy security, improve the energy efficiency of its facilities and reduce its energy consumption, according to the committee report accompanying the fiscal 2016 milcon spending bill. Those efforts, along with the department’s programs to enhance water conservation and to improve the security of installation energy sources, are critical components of DOD’s strategy to meet federal goals for reliance on renewable energy and resource conservation …

Services Should Make Water Conservation a Priority, Milcon Panel Says

  • May 28, 2015
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Prolonged droughts in California and other states should serve as “a wake-up call” to DOD to redouble its efforts to manage and conserve water at its installations, according to the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. The panel said it was concerned by the prospect of increasingly severe drought-related water shortages, particularly in the West and Southwest. In its report accompanying the fiscal 2016 milcon spending bill, the committee urged the department to take several steps to preserve scarce water resources …

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