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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Senate Democrats Urge McConnell to Begin Budget Talks

  • August 21, 2015
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With only limited time available after lawmakers return to Washington next month, Senate Democrats this week urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to start negotiations over the fiscal 2016 spending caps immediately. “With the existence of a clear and urgent deadline for action, we believe it would be unwise to wait until after the Congress returns from the August state work period — just 23 days before the end of the federal fiscal year — to begin talks on a path forward,” all 46 members of the Democratic Conference, which includes two independents, wrote McConnell on Tuesday. “We cannot afford to wait, only to let delay and inaction bring us to the brink of another totally predictable and completely preventable crisis …

Kansas Lawmakers Decry Planning Effort to Move Detainees to Ft. Leavenworth

  • August 18, 2015
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Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation have criticized the Pentagon’s decision to assess the feasibility of housing detainees at Fort Leavenworth now held at Guantánamo Bay as it drafts a formal plan for closing the controversial detention center. Defense officials last week traveled to the post in northeastern Kansas; they plan to visit the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., shortly. The surveys are part of the “ongoing effort to identify locations within the United States that can possibly facilitate military commissions and can possibly hold detainees currently at GTMO,” a DOD spokesman told the Voice of America. DOD will consider a variety of “military and civilian sites” to determine whether they can hold the law of war detainees “in a humane and secure manner,” according to the spokesman. “Only those locations that can hold detainees at a maximum security level will be considered …

Pentagon Launches New Review to Streamline Management Structure

  • August 11, 2015
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Defense officials will be developing a plan to trim the supervisory workforce within the office of the secretary of defense and associated defense agencies and field activities, following a recent directive from Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. The initiative, which is specifically aimed at “rationalizing and delayering” the management structure at DOD headquarters, represents the department’s latest reform effort to slash overhead spending. The DCMO will form a team of subject matter experts to work with affected organizations “to conduct a review of supervisory ratios and spans of control; create standardized frameworks; and develop implementation plans for the to-be rationalized organization in compliance with staff reduction requirements …

Quick Agreement over CR Needed to Avoid Shutdown following Hectic September

  • August 11, 2015
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A busy September for Congress punctuated by debate over the Iran nuclear deal, high-priority highway and cybersecurity bills, and the pope’s visit likely will result in lawmakers getting only one shot at passing a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open after Sept. 30. Because of the time Congress will be devoting to other priorities when it returns to Washington after Labor Day, neither the House nor the Senate will have the luxury of amending the CR they receive from the other chamber and sending it back for a second vote, reported CQ. “The highway bill, the cyber bill, the other things that need to get done, and the Iran resolution, and the highway bill are going to take a lot of time,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, vice chairman of the Republican conference …

Shutdown Not in the Cards, McConnell Says

  • August 7, 2015
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday insisted there would be no government shutdown in October in the wake of the controversy over undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue. McConnell said he would not indulge conservatives who are demanding that language removing $528 million in federal funding for the group be attached to any fiscal 2016 spending bills, including a continuing resolution, reported CQ Roll Call. “I can’t tell you what will finally end up in or out of any government funding resolution. I can tell you without fear of contradiction there will be no government shutdown …

Talk of Potential Shutdown Emerges in Wake of Planned Parenthood Videos

  • August 4, 2015
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A growing number of Republicans are calling for the party’s leaders to link fiscal 2016 spending bills, including a continuing resolution, to language denying funds to Planned Parenthood, in response to a series of undercover videos showing the organization’s executives discussing the sale of fetal tissue. A failed procedural vote in the Senate Monday to debate a measure cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood is unlikely to slow a rising outcry over the issue from conservatives. The effort began in the House last week with 18 members pledging to oppose any spending bills that continue funding for the organization, reported the Hill. And now Senate Republicans, particularly three of the members running for president, have taken up the mantle …

Policy Bill Talks Stuck on Military Benefits

  • August 4, 2015
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A proposed increase in co-pays for prescriptions has emerged as one of the thorniest issues in negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services committees over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. As of last week, the ranking members of the two committees had sided with Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) against House Armed Services Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) over the health care fees. McCain, along with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), favor DOD’s plan to increase co-pays for drugs purchased through Tricare by mail or at retail pharmacies while continuing to allow prescriptions to be filled at military clinics for free …

McCain, Thornberry to Continue Talks over Defense Bill

  • July 31, 2015
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Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and his House counterpart, Mac Thornberry, are expected to continue negotiations over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill during Congress’ August recess with the goal of completing a conference report in September. “We’re not going to stay in town, but there are phones and all kinds of ways of communicating and engaging,” McCain said. The two committee leaders planned to meet Thursday night to see if they could make progress on some of the most contentious issues separating the two sides, reported CQ Roll Call. Differences over military benefits have proven to be among the negotiation’s most difficult hurdles, as the Senate version embraces cost-saving proposals to slow the rate of increase in service members’ basic allowance for housing and raise Tricare prescription co-pays that the House rejects …

Congress Will Aim to Approve CR after August Recess

  • July 31, 2015
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One of Congress’ primary goals when it returns to Capitol Hill in September will be clearing a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Leaders of both chambers have now acknowledged what has become readily apparent with the appropriations process at a standstill in the House and Senate. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said discussions about a stopgap funding bill for fiscal 2016 will take place in September. “When we come back after August we’ll discuss the way forward on getting the government funded,” McConnell said, reported CQ Roll Call. He dismissed the prospect of hashing out a budget agreement with the White House sooner …

Overseas Bases Remain a Good Value, O’Hanlon Responds

  • July 30, 2015
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To the extent that DOD’s overseas bases provide deterrence and, in some regions, a quick-response capability in the event of a foreign crisis, the nation’s overseas bases are a bargain, says Michael O’Hanlon, co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. O’Hanlon’s blog post came in response to an op-ed from American University Professor David Vine earlier this week claiming the Defense Department maintains a vast array of overseas bases that waste money and harm the nation’s interests. Only a small fraction of DOD’s 600 military bases located abroad are major operational bases. For instance, the Air Force has only 16 overseas bases with major runways and associated infrastructure, O’Hanlon notes. And the cost of maintaining the nation’s overseas bases is an order of magnitude less expensive than the $85 billion figure cited by Vine …

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