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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Budget Impasse Fast Approaching in Senate

  • June 14, 2015
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Progress on fiscal 2016 appropriations bills could come to a screeching halt in the Senate this week, with Democrats vowing to block the chamber from beginning debate on all 12 spending bills, including the defense measure which the Senate is expected to turn to shortly. A deadlock in the Senate could slow work on appropriations on the other side of the Capitol as well, reported CQ. Democrats and the White House oppose GOP’s budget framework, which sticks to the stringent budget cap for non-defense spending but offers relief to the Pentagon by stashing $38 billion in extra funding in DOD’s overseas contingency operations account …

House Adopts Language Barring BRAC

  • June 12, 2015
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House lawmakers approved an amendment prohibiting the Defense Department from spending funds to propose, plan for or carry out a new round of base closures in fiscal 2016, before passing on Thursday the underlying defense appropriations bill for next year. The move probably won’t have any practical effect as this year’s defense authorization bill likely will reject the Obama administration’s request to hold a round in 2017, but it does underscore lawmakers’ opposition to BRAC. The chamber previously adopted similar language when it took up the FY 2016 military construction-veterans affairs spending measure in April. Much of the debate over the legislation focused on its use of DOD’s war account to sidestep the statutory spending caps in order to meet the Pentagon’s budget request …

Senate Appropriators Reject DOD Plan to Trim Commissary Subsidy

  • June 12, 2015
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Senate appropriators on Thursday restored $322 million in funding for military grocery stores while marking up the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill, matching a similar move by their House counterparts. The Obama administration’s budget request recommended the cut — out of a total allocation of $1.4 billion for commissaries — which would have been accommodated by reducing days of operation and operating hours, laying off staff and closing some stores, reported Military Times. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, criticized the proposal as a shortsighted idea from “Pentagon bean splicers” and said those savings should not come at the expense of military families …

BRAC Featured Prominently in Latest White House Veto Threat

  • June 11, 2015
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The House’s fiscal 2016 defense spending bill would undermine a new round of base closures and prevent DOD from aligning its infrastructure with the needs of its evolving force, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said this week in explaining the White House’s threat to veto the legislation. The appropriations bill, which the House began debating Wednesday, does not includes $10.5 million that President Obama requested for planning and analyses to support a BRAC round in 2017, according to OMB’s response to the measure, H.R. 2685. “This impairs the ability of the executive branch to plan for contingencies or make other needed adjustments that would improve military effectiveness and efficiency …

First Test of Democrats’ Pledge to Block Spending Bills in Senate Coming Soon

  • June 10, 2015
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If you were looking for signs that Democrats and Republicans would work together to pass spending bills for next year, Tuesday wasn’t the day to be on Capitol Hill. After losing a vote over an amendment to block the GOP’s gambit for evading the statutory spending caps to bolster the Pentagon’s budget, Senate Democrats reiterated their pledge to block all spending bills from moving to the floor. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, insisted Democrats would stick together to block motions to proceed to fiscal 2016 appropriations bills. “Our big fight is going to be on the appropriations bills …

Senate Blocks Attempt to Restrict Use of OCO Funds

  • June 10, 2015
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In the most significant policy battle the Senate expects to face as it debates the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, the chamber on Tuesday rejected a Democratic effort to stop lawmakers from authorizing the use of tens of billions of dollars in extra war funds to sidestep the statutory spending caps in a 46-51 vote. Following the vote, it’s not clear whether Senate Democrats will try to block the annual policy bill, S. 1376, from advancing in the chamber. Afterwards, Democrats vowed to stop the GOP from going ahead with its strategy to offer the Pentagon budget relief while ignoring domestic agencies by blocking progress on spending bills …

Democrats’ Shutdown Talk Intended to Force GOP’s Hand

  • June 9, 2015
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An increasing number of senior Democratic lawmakers have been warning that the federal government is headed toward another shutdown when the new fiscal year begins as a result of the brewing dispute over fiscal 2016 spending. “We’re now kind of paddling down this river serenely when we all know there is this huge waterfall ahead. And if our Republican colleagues want to keep quietly paddling toward a government shutdown, that’s their choice,” Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on the House Budget Committee, said last week. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), ranking member on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, noted the similarities with the issues surrounding appropriations in FY 2014 when a partisan dispute resulted in a 16-day shutdown. “While not a mirror image of two years ago, the FY 2016 process is careening towards a similar fate …

McHugh to Step Down as Army Secretary by November

  • June 9, 2015
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Army Secretary John McHugh, who has served in the post since the outset of the Obama administration, will step down by Nov. 1, the Defense Department announced Monday. “Secretary McHugh has been a tremendous public servant for decades, and he has helped lead the Army through a period of challenge and change,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a written statement. “There will be much time in the coming months to appropriately celebrate his many accomplishments, but for now I will just say that every soldier is better off because of his hard work and vision, and so is the country,” Carter said. McHugh expressed his desire several weeks ago to depart as secretary. He resigned from Congress in September 2009 to join the Obama administration. McHugh, a Republican, spent 16 years in Congress serving a sprawling congressional district that included Northern and Central New York and Fort Drum. He served on the House Armed Services Committee and became the ranking member, reported the Hill.

‘We’ll Get There,’ Carter Says about a New BRAC Round

  • June 8, 2015
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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter vowed to continue pursuing another BRAC round until Congress relents, during remarks Thursday at a town hall event in Stuttgart, Germany. “It must be done,” Carter told troops from Africa Command, reported Military.com. “We can’t let tail and not tooth eat our budget. And so where we have unneeded infrastructure, and BRAC obviously pertains to unneeded infrastructure in the United States, we’ve got to get after that,” he said. “I am in an ongoing argument essentially with the Congress over this necessity,” Carter explained. This year’s request by President Obama to hold a BRAC round in 2017 represents the fourth consecutive year the administration has asked Congress to approve one or more base closure rounds. “But we’re going to keep trying. And I think at some point we’ll get there,” Carter said.

White House Press Secretary Indicates There Is Room for a Budget Deal

  • June 7, 2015
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The White House would not insist on a tax hike to offset any budget relief offered as part of a prospective deal to relax the Budget Control Act spending caps, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday. Earnest noted that the December 2013 Ryan-Murray agreement — which provided DOD a total of $31 billion in spending above the caps in FY 2014 and 2015 — did not include a tax hike when he was asked about not insisting on a tax increase as a prerequisite for a budget deal. “What we have said is that that is the model that should be pursued,” he said, reported CQ Roll Call. The 2013 agreement did include some fees, however …

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