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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

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 …

House Votes on Milcon Spending Bill Held up over Reliance on OCO Funds

  • April 29, 2015
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House Republicans postponed debate on the fiscal 2016 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill on Wednesday evening partially over fears that lawmakers would adopt amendments barring the use of funds from DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to escape the statutory cap on defense spending. A series of amendments introduced by Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) would have effectively eliminated $532 million in military construction funds allocated through the OCO, reported CQ Roll Call. 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. But Van Hollen and Mulvaney called the shift of funds from DOD’s base budget to the OCO a “gimmick” to evade the caps …

Committee Postpones Debate over BRAC

  • April 29, 2015
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One of the most prominent supporters of the Pentagon’s request to conduct a new round of base closures withdrew an amendment Wednesday during deliberations over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill that would have authorized a BRAC round in 2017, as the Obama administration has requested. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, intends to bring up the amendment on the floor when the House debates the authorization bill. The legislation marked up Wednesday explicitly bars DOD from carrying out a new BRAC round. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chairman of the committee’s Readiness Subcommittee, and full Committee Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) oppose the administration’s request for additional base closures, citing the overwhelming challenge of reopening a base once it is shuttered …

White House Veto Threats Signal Budget Showdown

  • April 28, 2015
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Veto threats issued Tuesday by the White House on two appropriations bills scheduled to go to the House floor this week, including the military construction–veterans affairs measure, leave uncertain how fiscal 2016 spending measures will go forward this year. The two statements from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicate President Obama would not sign any spending bills that follow congressional Republicans’ plan to stick to the statutory spending caps while providing relief only to the Pentagon by stashing tens of billions of additional dollars in its war account. “The president’s senior advisers would recommend that he veto H.R. 2029 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments we need for our economy to compete in the future,” according to the statement of administration policy on the milcon spending bill. OMB issued the same veto threat for the energy-water measure …

Smith to Introduce BRAC Authorization Amendment Again

  • April 28, 2015
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For the second consecutive year, Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to offer an amendment to the annual defense policy bill approving a new round of base closures. As Smith did last year, he plans to introduce the amendment when the committee marks up the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill today, but withdraw it in the hopes of receiving a vote on the House floor, reported CQ Roll Call. Last year, however, the House Rules Committee blocked Smith’s proposal from receiving a vote when the House debated the measure. In addition to authorizing a BRAC round in 2017, the amendment is expected to include some reforms to the base closure process. For instance, it would require the defense secretary to certify that base closures would result in net savings within six years …

Protection for Sage Grouse Could Jeopardize Training Facilities, House Committee Says

  • April 28, 2015
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Language in the House version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill would bar the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from increasing federal protection for the greater sage grouse, over concerns that listing the grassland bird as threatened or endangered would restrict the use of military training grounds and firing ranges in the western United States. A decision by the wildlife service to list the greater sage grouse likely would restrict military access to training grounds and firing ranges, reduce the number of exercises and limit the number of overflights and ground movements, the Army and Air Force has said, reported Stars and Stripes. The grouse’s habitat encompasses parts of 11 western states. Energy development and other activities threaten the black and brown bird by reducing the sagebrush it relies on for cover …

Policy Bill Would Trim Headquarters Spending, Personnel

  • April 28, 2015
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The Defense Department would need to cut the budget and personnel at its headquarters by 20 percent and save $10 billion over five years, under the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill the House Armed Services Committee marks up today. The provision calls for the defense secretary to develop a plan for streamlining DOD management headquarters by requiring an accurate baseline accounting of headquarters budgets and personnel, and more specific information on actual and planned reductions in management headquarters. “The committee notes that the department has already claimed the savings associated with these reductions in the budget requests provided since the 20 percent goal was established in 2013,” according to a summary of the bill language …

Armed Services Chair Remains ‘Deeply Skeptical’ of BRAC Request

  • April 28, 2015
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Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, reiterated his opposition to the Pentagon’s request to conduct a BRAC round in 2017, in a fact sheet accompanying the chairman’s mark of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The document acknowledges that DOD has expressed concerns that excess basing capacity is a financial drag on the department, as well as that its most recent capacity analysis is more than a decade old and does not reflect the probable future force posture. The fact sheet indicated, though, that Thornberry would remain extremely reluctant to approve a new round until the military’s roles and missions are better defined …

Authorization Bill Rejects Air Force Plan to Retire A-10 Fleet

  • April 27, 2015
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For the second straight year, the House Armed Services Committee has proposed reversing the Air Force’s plan to retire its fleet of A-10 close air support aircraft. Instead, the committee would provide $683 million to keep the aircraft flying, according to the chairman’s mark of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The Air Force has said retiring the A-10 would save $4 billion and that other aircraft can perform the close air support mission. Many lawmakers, though, dispute the claim that other aircraft can replace the Warthog …

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