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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Prospective Senate Chairman Looks to Raise His Profile

  • August 24, 2014
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Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed (D) appears to be trying to boost his image, primarily through appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, to get ready for the possibility that he will become the next chairman of the Armed Services Committee. For that to happen, the Democrats would have to retain control of the Senate in the next Congress, an iffy prospect at this point. “If the Senate doesn’t flip [to Republicans], he assuredly gets the gavel,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Hill. The former Army Ranger is expected to be elected easily in November to his fourth term in the Senate. If Democrats succeed in retaining the majority, Reed will find himself contending with Republican committee members with much higher profiles, including Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), according to the story. Current Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is retiring at the end of the year.

Asia-Pacific Pivot Remains Key to Strategy, DOD Official Says

  • August 14, 2014
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The Pentagon remains committed to the military’s rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region despite a number of hot spots in other parts of the world, DOD Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Thursday. “Given the fact that there’s a lot going on in the world, that we’re still making these visits and still having these discussions, speaks volumes about how important we believe the Asia-Pacific theater is …

Question over Reach of Language Urging States to Offer In-State Tuition to Veterans

  • August 12, 2014
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Language in the recent VA health care reform legislation encouraging public universities to charge recently separated veterans in-state tuition rates may not be as forceful as lawmakers intended. The bill, signed into law by President Obama last week, does not force states to charge veterans in-state tuition at public universities, but schools that charge higher rates would not be eligible to receive veterans’ Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill education benefits. Lawmakers believed the provision would prevent a school from receiving GI Bill benefits from any veterans, including those paying in-state tuition, if even one eligible veteran was charged more than the in-state rates …

CR Likely to Extend into December

  • August 11, 2014
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A continuing resolution (CR) needed to keep the federal open starting Oct. 1 likely would provide funding until the middle of December. Extending a stopgap spending bill through the second week of December would allow lawmakers to put off any difficult votes until after the midterm elections while giving House and Senate appropriators time to reach a deal on a fiscal 2015 omnibus, reports CQ. “This could be a lot like last year, it looks like,” House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said last month ,,,

Prospects Remain Uncertain for Senate to Debate Authorization Bill Next Month

  • August 10, 2014
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has included the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill on his to-do list for September, but the chamber’s busy schedule next month may force it to postpone debate on the legislation. Given the limited floor time available, the number of amendments filed on the annual defense policy bill could dictate when the Senate takes it up. So far 141 amendments have been filed, but the number almost certainly will rise before the bill goes to the floor, reported CQ …

Language in DOD Spending Bill Intended to Postpone Maryland Wind Project

  • August 5, 2014
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Language added last month to the committee report of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, possibly could derail a proposed wind farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that many lawmakers believe would interfere with a radar system at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The provision directs the Navy to refrain from reaching an agreement with the wind farm developer to turn off the turbines during radar testing at Pax River until MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory completes a $2 million study on the effects of the turbines and options to mitigate those impacts …

Transitioning Veterans Could More Easily Link to Local Services under Heitkamp Bill

  • August 4, 2014
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Legislation introduced by North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) would make it much easier for communities to reach out to newly separated service members and help them overcome challenges in gaining access to services and benefits such as health care and housing, employment and education assistance as they transition back to civilian life. The Connect with Veterans Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a voluntary national directory of veterans that would be available to communities and state veterans affairs departments …

Members Optimistic Senate Will Debate Policy Bill Next Month

  • August 4, 2014
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Despite a general breakdown in cooperation between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate that has prevented most significant legislation from advancing, a growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe the chamber will take up the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill after they return to Capitol Hill following their five-week August recess. The measure last year was prevented from going to the floor because the two sides could not agree on a process for handling amendments, and the potential remains that a similar issue could hold up the National Defense Authorization Act again …

VA Reform Bill Retains Provision to Prompt States to Offer In-State Tuition to Veterans

  • July 31, 2014
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The compromise version of legislation addressing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ scheduling crisis includes a provision allowing veterans to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at public universities only if they are charged, at most, in-state tuition rates. The language does not force states to charge veterans in-state tuition at public universities, but in states that charge higher rates, the VA would not provide veterans any benefits for tuition and fees. Currently, the GI Bill covers tuition and fees at the in-state rate of public schools, but veterans may not always qualify for those rates due to the wide variance in state residency laws …

Authorization Bill on September To-Do List, Reid Says

  • July 31, 2014
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The Senate will only have “two weeks and two days” to work in September before it plans to adjourn until after the midterm election, but passing the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill is on the chamber’s “have-to-do” list, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday. To make headway on the annual defense bill and other legislative priorities, including stopgap and emergency spending bills, Reid warned members that the Senate would not be taking weekends off after it returns from its August recess on Sept. 8 …

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