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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

House, Senate Face Competing Forces in Crafting FY’16 Budget Resolution

  • February 23, 2015
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The House and Senate Budget committees are getting ready to draft fiscal 2016 budget resolutions, but with Republicans divided over whether — and how — to break the statutory spending caps, it’s too early to predict how they will come up with spending levels that satisfy both defense and fiscal hawks. The House committee is more likely to stick with the existing Budget Control Act caps, but the resulting resolution could yield discretionary spending levels perceived by lawmakers from both parties as too low for defense and non-defense programs. That outcome could lead to a budget deal later this year similar to the one struck by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray in December 2013 that offered the Pentagon limited relief above the FY 2014 and 2015 caps, reported CQ …

Finding Consensus on Best Approach to Reforming Commissary Benefit Proves Elusive

  • February 22, 2015
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Neither the Pentagon’s plan for slashing the federal subsidy for military grocery stores nor a congressional commission’s recommendations for gaining efficiencies in the commissary system will prove successful, according to two recent analyses. Last month, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission called for consolidating DOD’s three exchange services with the Defense Commissary Agency as a way to maintain the benefits of all base stores. Consolidating those four organizations into a new Defense Resale Activity, though, would cost $466 million and take from six to nine years to carry out, according to a position paper from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The upfront costs wouldn’t be recouped through efficiencies for 85 years, AAFES concluded …

No BRAC in Near Future, Thornberry Says

  • February 22, 2015
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Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) ruled out any chance there would be a new round of base closures in the next couple of years during comments he made last week to the Nortex Regional Planning Commission in north central Texas. The remark built on earlier comments by the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee revealing a strong reluctance to consider authorizing a BRAC round. In January, Thornberry said the nation needed to better define the future roles and missions of its military before shuttering military bases …

Wittman Argues against Administration’s BRAC Request

  • February 20, 2015
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At last week’s hearing of the House Armed Services Committee with defense experts on where savings could be found in the defense budget, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chairman of the committee’s readiness panel, focused on the witnesses’ support for a new round of base closures as one avenue for cutting costs. At the outset of the hearing, Bensahel listed a new BRAC round as one of three priorities for reforming DOD spending. “The Army and the Air Force have each estimated that they have around 20 percent excess capacity. It is unconscionable to require these services to continue spending money on facilities that they do not need while the budget caps require them to cut end strength, training, and readiness, which puts American troops at risk …

DOD Has Not Drafted Alternate FY’16 Budget to Meet Spending Cap

  • February 19, 2015
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Pentagon officials do not have a backup spending plan for fiscal 2016 in the event that lawmakers fail to lift the $499 billion spending cap for the department’s base budget, Comptroller Mike McCord said this week. “The answer right now is no, we do not have an alternate plan,” McCord said. Budget officials had developed alternate budgets in past years to prepare for the possibility of sequestration, he said, but the department believed preparing multiple budgets was not worth the effort …

Deal to Ease Budget Pressure on Pentagon Is Likely, Hale Says

  • February 18, 2015
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Congress likely will strike a moderate deal relaxing the $499 billion cap on the Defense Department’s fiscal 2016 base budget, according to former DOD Comptroller Robert Hale. “What I hope happens is that we get another mini-deal,” Hale, an adviser to Booz Allen Hamilton, told Federal News Radio. Hale pointed to a recent speech by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), chairman of the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee, as a positive sign for the prospects of a new budget deal. “I do think there is a good chance that through the budgeting process that sequestration will be set aside,” said Wittman …

Carter Pledges to Fight for Service Members, Build Force of the Future

  • February 18, 2015
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Ashton Carter was formally sworn in Tuesday as defense secretary, providing the former deputy defense secretary almost two years to tackle a number of thorny national security crises. “If anyone is made for this job, if there’s a job description that fits a person, this is the guy that fits the job description,” Vice President Joe Biden said before administering the oath of office to Carter at the White House. Carter, 60, also served as the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics under Obama. In a message to the DOD workforce, Carter laid out three priorities for his tenure: Helping the president make the best possible national security decisions for protecting the nation …

Reporting to Duty, Carter Will Face Numerous Priorities

  • February 16, 2015
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Ashton Carter, who is scheduled to be sworn in as the next defense secretary Tuesday morning, will have an array of foreign crises to deal with, calling into question his ability to reach a breakthrough with Congress to loosen the statutory cap on defense spending. “One thing we know for sure about Ash Carter’s tenure as defense secretary is that it will be fleeting,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute. “Whatever plans he may have for spurring innovation or reforming processes, the reality is that his schedule will probably be captured by bigger issues such as [the Islamic State] and Ukraine …

Pentagon Gets Carter after Senate Confirmation

  • February 13, 2015
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Ashton Carter is expected to assume the official duties of the defense secretary and take the oath of office in the next several days, the Pentagon reported following the Senate’s 93-5 confirmation vote Thursday. Carter, 60, will become the 25th Pentagon chief after earlier stints in the Obama administration as deputy secretary and acquisition chief. The pain-free confirmation process enjoyed by Carter was a tribute to his popularity on both sides of the aisle. Prior to the vote, John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised the candidate on the Senate floor. “He is one of America’s most experienced defense professionals, respected by Republicans and Democrats alike …

The Insanity Defense (Department) Will Remain Hard Pressed to Win Congress’ Approval for BRAC

  • February 12, 2015
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The Pentagon shouldn’t be surprised that Congress rejected its requests the past three years to realign and close additional bases and likely will ignore its request again this year. Until defense officials revise the BRAC law to address lawmakers’ concerns about the 2005 round’s ballooning implementation cost and less-than-promised annual savings, there is no reason to believe Congress will suddenly embrace a new round of base closures, Lucian Niemeyer, a former staff member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, says in a commentary published in Real Clear Defense. “Each year, Congress has asked the Pentagon to suggest improvements to the BRAC law and, each year, there have been none. It would be insane for Congress to say ‘yes’ to the same process and expect a different result …

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