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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

BRAC Coming Soon, Principi Says

  • July 17, 2015
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A new BRAC round is closer than ever, with Congress certain to approve the next round by 2019, Anthony Principi, chairman of the 2005 BRAC Commission, said Thursday. “If I was a betting man, between now and 2019, I’d say 100 percent,” Principi, chairman of the Principi Group, told the Tampa Tribune following the monthly meeting of the Florida Defense Support Task Force. The new round most likely would be conducted in 2019, he said, although there is a chance that a grand bargain between Congress and the White House could force a BRAC to be held in 2017 …

Legislation Easing Way for Veterans to Access Local Services Reintroduced in Senate

  • July 17, 2015
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Transitioning veterans could more easily gain access to services and benefits available in their communities, such as health care and housing, employment and education assistance, under bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-Maine) and John Boozman (R-Ark.). The Connect with Veterans Act, first introduced last year by Heitkamp, 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. Currently there is no mechanism for local governments to contact veterans and transitioning service members who already reside there or plan to relocate to link them with support services …

McCain Worried about President’s Veto Threat on Policy Bill

  • July 16, 2015
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The fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill includes critical reforms to the military retirement system and DOD’s procurement process and will require drastic reductions in headquarters and management personnel, but it may not become law since President Obama has threatened to veto it, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said during remarks delivered at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday. McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he received the most recent threat during a phone call with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, reported Stars and Stripes. “So, we just have a difference of opinion,” he said. “I am very concerned the president will veto it. It is a great concern to me …

Lawmakers Bicker over Housing Allowance Reforms during House-Senate Conference

  • July 15, 2015
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Lawmakers attempting to work out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill on Tuesday largely focused on differences in how the House and Senate versions addressed DOD reforms intended to reduce the cost of the basic allowance for housing (BAH). House members criticized the Senate measure for embracing the changes proposed by the department, reported CQ Roll Call. DOD proposed slowing the rate of increase in the BAH over the next several years until rates cover only 95 percent of service members’ out-of-pocket costs. Last year, leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached a compromise allowing the BAH to cover only 99 percent of rental and utility costs …

Fort Bragg Airlift Unit Earns Yearlong Extension, Air Force Says

  • July 15, 2015
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Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing earned a reprieve until at least fall 2016 as a direct result of efforts by North Carolina’s congressional delegation to save the Air Force Reserve unit based at Pope Field. The 440th, which flies C-130 aircraft to support airborne units based at Fort Bragg, had been slated to be inactivated in September in a belt-tightening move. A spokesman for Air Force Reserve Command said multiple provisions in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill would mean the Air Force would need more time before it could eliminate the airlift wing, reported the Fayetteville Observer. Under an amendment sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in the Senate version, the 18th Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Operations Command would need to certify that the loss of the 440th would not harm training before the unit could be deactivated …

Fate of Pilot Test of Commissary Privatization Still up for Grabs

  • July 14, 2015
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A Senate effort to torpedo a provision in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization directing DOD to privatize up to five commissaries through a two-year pilot program appears to have been unsuccessful, leaving the issue to be settled in conference. During its debate of the annual policy bill last month, the Senate passed an amendment intended to strip out the language calling for the pilot. The amendment would have required the department to assess the costs and benefits of privatizing military grocery stores prior to launching the test. But because of the procedure employed to pass the amendment, the original language remains in the measure …

Defense Bill Conference Talks on Fast Track

  • July 14, 2015
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Members of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill are hoping to finish talks by next week. Many issues remain unresolved, but committee leaders are sufficiently optimistic that conferees will continue to makes steady progress that a vote by the House has been tentatively scheduled for July 24, reported CQ Roll Call. Committee members had been scheduled to meet at the subcommittee level last week to reconcile the two versions of the legislation, but those talks were cancelled due to floor votes. Those negotiations will continue this week …

Summer Announcement on Army Downsizing Could Influence Congressional, DOD Deliberations

  • July 12, 2015
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The Army’s announcement as to what installations would absorb the loss of 40,000 soldiers to accommodate discretionary spending caps may have been timed to produce a favorable outcome for the service when lawmakers begin taking up the defense budget, according to several analysts. “One likely reason for the timing is they’re trying to refocus attention on themselves and the cut in hopes of maybe getting this cut reversed or preventing additional ones,” Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told CQ Roll Call. Beyond the debate in Congress over fiscal 2016 defense appropriations and next year’s authorization bill, the Army also is looking to influence Pentagon discussions over initial drafts of the FY 2017 budget …

Senate Votes to Go to Conference with House on Policy Bill

  • July 12, 2015
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The Senate on Thursday agreed to form a conference committee with the House to hash out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, marking the first time since 2012 that Congress has formally convened a House-Senate conference on the annual policy bill. Before approving the motion, the Senate rejected a Democratic proposal to instruct conferees to shift $38 billion in overseas contingency operations funds back to DOD’s base budget. Both versions of the authorization bill follow the GOP budget framework which calls for stashing tens of billions of extra dollars in the department’s war account to elude the statutory spending caps. Democrats have opposed that maneuver in an attempt to strike a budget deal with Republicans to lift the budget caps on both defense and non-defense spending …

Congressional Tide Has Turned on BRAC, Smith Says

  • July 10, 2015
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Congressional opposition to approving a new round of base closures is loosening, even as this year’s Congress has resisted the Obama administration’s request for a BRAC in 2017, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday. “The hostility, the notion that this was completely unacceptable, which existed about a year ago is not there anymore amongst my fellow members is the way I would put it,” Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the most prominent advocate in Congress for a BRAC round, told reporters. Smith dismissed all of the standard arguments, saying they had run their course …

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