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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Authorization Bill Passes in House despite Democratic Opposition

  • May 17, 2015
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House Republicans overcame an uncharacteristic lack of Democratic support on Friday to pass the chamber’s fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, 269-151. The opposition from Democrats did not stem from significant differences over defense programs but, rather, from the effort by the party, along with President Obama, to fight the legislation’s reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations account to evade the statutory spending caps. The legislation, H.R. 1735, would authorize DOD to spend $38 billion on operations and maintenance needs that ordinarily would be funded in the department’s base budget …

Senate Panel Fails to Resolve Questions over OCO End-Around

  • May 14, 2015
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The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved its fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, 22-4, after failing to assuage Democrats opposed to the measure’s reliance on DOD’s war funding account to evade the statutory spending caps. The committee’s draft legislation, like the version being debated this week on the House floor, authorizes DOD to spend $38 billion of funds added to its overseas contingency operations account for items traditionally funded in its base budget. Stashing the extra funds in the OCO account allows Congress and the Pentagon to sidestep the Budget Control Act caps …

Amendment Offers Possible Reprieve for Ft. Bragg Airlift Wing

  • May 14, 2015
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Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing, which is slated to be deactivated by the end of the fiscal year, would receive at least a short-term reprieve under an amendment added by the Senate Armed Services Committee this week to its draft fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. The amendment offered by North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R) would require the 18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and U.S. Army Special Operations Command to certify that the loss of the 440th — an Air Force Reserve unit based at Fort Bragg’s Pope Field — would not harm training at Bragg before the airlift wing could be deactivated. Army commanders would have 90 days after the legislation is enacted to make a decision …

House Votes to Remove Immigration Measure from Defense Bill

  • May 14, 2015
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House lawmakers on Thursday voted to strip a controversial immigration provision from the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, removing one possible barrier to the measure’s passage this week. Language added to the defense policy bill in committee last month would have encouraged the defense secretary to consider allowing individuals eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to serve in the military. The provision drew heated opposition from conservatives who tried to have it stricken from the bill by the House Rules Committee. Instead, lawmakers adopted an amendment, 221-202, removing the language …

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 …

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