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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Democrats to Oppose House Authorization Bill over Reliance on OCO Funds

  • May 13, 2015
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will whip Democrats against the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill over opposition to the measure’s reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to get around the Budget Control Act spending caps. The unprecedented move follows a DOD briefing Wednesday for House Democrats that concluded, “this bill is the wrong bill,” according to House Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.). The annual policy legislation typically passes with bipartisan support. Equally surprising was the announcement by Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, that he also would vote against the measure …

House Rules Sends Policy Measure on to Floor Debate

  • May 13, 2015
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The House Rules Committee voted late Wednesday night to send the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill to the chamber floor to start debate today on the underlying measure along with 135 amendments. One of the most divisive amendments allowed would strike language encouraging the defense secretary to consider allowing recipients of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to serve in the military, reported the Hill. The amendment’s sponsor, Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and 24 other Republican lawmakers had asked House Rules for the original language to be stricken from the defense policy measure because immigration issues are the responsibility of the Judiciary Committee …

White House Opposes Defense Bill Language Mandating Headquarters Downsizing

  • May 13, 2015
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Language in the House version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill requiring DOD to trim its headquarters budgets and personnel by 20 percent over five years garnered a strong objection from the Office of Management and Budget, which claimed the provision was unnecessary. The bill stipulates that the streamlining initiative generate $10 billion in savings and calls for the department to prepare an accurate baseline accounting of defense headquarters budgets and personnel, and detailed information on planned reductions in management headquarters. The department, however, already is carrying out a plan to reduce headquarters personnel, according to OMB’s “Statement of Administration Policy” issued Tuesday for H.R. 1735 …

Senate Readiness Panel Denies Pentagon’s BRAC Request

  • May 12, 2015
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The Defense Department would be prohibited from holding a round of base closures, under the portion of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill marked up Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee. “At a time when the department cannot afford to fully fund … readiness requirements, I do not support giving the department the authority to pursue a BRAC round,” said Subcommittee Chair Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), reported CQ Roll Call. The panel’s rejection of the Obama administration’s request to hold a BRAC round in 2017 was not a surprise as Ayotte has made her opposition clear in recent years …

Lack of BRAC, Extra War Funds Prompt White House Veto Threat over House Defense Bill

  • May 12, 2015
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The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto the House version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, citing a host of disputes, including its reliance on the department’s overseas contingency operations account to sidestep the statutory spending caps and its failure to adopt many cost-cutting reforms proposed by the Obama administration. The “Statement of Administration Policy” issued by the Office of Management Budget highlights language precluding DOD from spending funds on a new round of base closures. “This impairs the ability of the executive branch to plan for contingencies or make other needed adjustments that would improve military effectiveness and efficiency,” it states. The department needs Congress to authorize a new BRAC round to “allow DOD to rightsize its infrastructure while providing important assistance to affected communities, freeing resources currently consumed by maintaining unneeded facilities …

Earmark Ban Fails to Slow Lobbying on Appropriations Issues

  • May 11, 2015
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The congressional ban on earmarks has not stopped Washington lobbyists from continuing to work on appropriations bills but it has changed their focus. Now lobbyists are pressing the Appropriations panels to include policy language or establish funding targets, rather than earmarks for specific projects. Clients, for example, may want to make sure certain agency programs are adequately funded so there would be money available for a competitive grant program, Jim Dyer, a lobbyist at the Podesta Group and former staff director on House Appropriations, told CQ Roll Call. In that case, Dyer would ask a committee to set guidelines for the program that are aligned with his clients’ capabilities. “Obviously, it’s a different world than it was 10 years ago …

Panel Asks for Plan to Sustain Range, Test Facility Infrastructure

  • May 11, 2015
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Citing range and test facility infrastructure that has been deteriorating over time, the House Armed Services Committee is directing DOD to assess the military construction needs of DOD’s Major Range and Test Facility Base as called for in the department’s most recent strategic plan for test and evaluation (T&E) resources, according to the report accompanying the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The assessment should include an estimated cost to replace or bring to code deficient structures, as well as a plan to ensure the department’s range and test facilities have sufficient capacity to support current and future operations, the report language states. “The committee recognizes that the [Major Range and Test Facility Base] must remain sized, operated and maintained to preserve core, governmental T&E capabilities …

Lawmakers Look to Halt Next Round of Army Downsizing

  • May 10, 2015
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With the Army on course to shrink its active-duty end strength by up to 70,000 soldiers in the coming years, lawmakers representing Army communities are eager to offer amendments to the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill when it goes to the House floor this week that would suspend the planned drawdown. The House Armed Services Committee already denied one attempt to maintain the Army’s end strength at current levels when it marked up the legislation last month. An amendment sponsored by Republican Reps. John Fleming (La.) and Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) called for maintaining troop strength at 490,000, the service’s current target for the end of fiscal 2015. The provision would have prohibited further cuts until six months after officials submitted a strategic and operational analysis of the impact of future reductions, and assessed how the cuts would harm overall readiness …

Armed Services Panel Applauds Utilities Privatization, School Renovation Initiatives

  • May 10, 2015
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The House Armed Services Committee praised two initiatives that are resulting in upgraded facilities across DOD installations — utilities privatization and the construction and renovation of schools operated by local districts — in its report accompanying the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The department’s utilities privatization initiative has been able “to achieve greater efficiencies and reduce operating costs while recapitalizing aging utilities infrastructure with modern, reliable systems,” the committee stated. “In addition, the committee notes that utilities privatization can also enhance support to military missions,” according to the report …

Senate Panel Unlikely to Adopt DOD’s BRAC Request, McCain Says

  • May 7, 2015
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The Senate’s version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill probably won’t endorse the Obama administration’s request to hold a BRAC round in 2017, Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday. “I think they made bad mistakes in the last couple of rounds, and so I am a bit skeptical,” McCain told reporters in explaining his opposition to approving additional base closures, reported CQ Roll Call. McCain had not weighed in on the BRAC question since taking the helm of the Armed Services Committee at the beginning of the year, but in March the chairman and ranking member, Jack Reed (D-R.I.), called for DOD to carry out management reforms “that could reduce or consolidate military headquarters, commands and infrastructure …

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