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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Global Unrest Creates Possible Opening to Relax Spending Caps

  • September 2, 2014
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The rise of the Islamic State along with other emerging threats could provide an opening for lawmakers to reverse defense cuts, or at least offer the Pentagon additional flexibility to respond to the threats, but it’s not yet clear that such an effort could succeed at this point, budget experts say. As the number of hotspots expands across the globe, talk about various options Congress could pursue to pay for a military response — including ongoing airstrikes in Iraq and possible ones in Syria — has been on the upswing …

Pentagon Embarks on New Streamlining Campaign

  • September 1, 2014
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The Defense Department is preparing to launch a new initiative to reduce overhead and administrative costs in the office of the secretary of defense and the 16 defense agencies, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. The effort, which will bypass the military services and combatant commands, will partially rely on outside experts from the Defense Business Board and Business Executives for National Security …

House Republicans Likely to Push for Longer CR

  • August 25, 2014
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While both parties agree on the need to pass a stopgap spending bill in September, a dispute may break out over how long it should last. With the potential for Republicans to gain control of the Senate next year, some House Republicans may push for a fiscal 2015 continuing resolution (CR) to extend until sometime in 2015. Democrats, however, want the stopgap to end in December so lawmakers can hash out a deal on an omnibus after the midterm elections. “This could lead to a real standoff,” a senior House Republican leadership aide told Government Executive …

Prospective Senate Chairman Looks to Raise His Profile

  • August 24, 2014
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Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed (D) appears to be trying to boost his image, primarily through appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, to get ready for the possibility that he will become the next chairman of the Armed Services Committee. For that to happen, the Democrats would have to retain control of the Senate in the next Congress, an iffy prospect at this point. “If the Senate doesn’t flip [to Republicans], he assuredly gets the gavel,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Hill. The former Army Ranger is expected to be elected easily in November to his fourth term in the Senate. If Democrats succeed in retaining the majority, Reed will find himself contending with Republican committee members with much higher profiles, including Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), according to the story. Current Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is retiring at the end of the year.

Asia-Pacific Pivot Remains Key to Strategy, DOD Official Says

  • August 14, 2014
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The Pentagon remains committed to the military’s rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region despite a number of hot spots in other parts of the world, DOD Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Thursday. “Given the fact that there’s a lot going on in the world, that we’re still making these visits and still having these discussions, speaks volumes about how important we believe the Asia-Pacific theater is …

Question over Reach of Language Urging States to Offer In-State Tuition to Veterans

  • August 12, 2014
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Language in the recent VA health care reform legislation encouraging public universities to charge recently separated veterans in-state tuition rates may not be as forceful as lawmakers intended. The bill, signed into law by President Obama last week, does not force states to charge veterans in-state tuition at public universities, but schools that charge higher rates would not be eligible to receive veterans’ Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill education benefits. Lawmakers believed the provision would prevent a school from receiving GI Bill benefits from any veterans, including those paying in-state tuition, if even one eligible veteran was charged more than the in-state rates …

CR Likely to Extend into December

  • August 11, 2014
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A continuing resolution (CR) needed to keep the federal open starting Oct. 1 likely would provide funding until the middle of December. Extending a stopgap spending bill through the second week of December would allow lawmakers to put off any difficult votes until after the midterm elections while giving House and Senate appropriators time to reach a deal on a fiscal 2015 omnibus, reports CQ. “This could be a lot like last year, it looks like,” House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said last month ,,,

Prospects Remain Uncertain for Senate to Debate Authorization Bill Next Month

  • August 10, 2014
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has included the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill on his to-do list for September, but the chamber’s busy schedule next month may force it to postpone debate on the legislation. Given the limited floor time available, the number of amendments filed on the annual defense policy bill could dictate when the Senate takes it up. So far 141 amendments have been filed, but the number almost certainly will rise before the bill goes to the floor, reported CQ …

Language in DOD Spending Bill Intended to Postpone Maryland Wind Project

  • August 5, 2014
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Language added last month to the committee report of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, possibly could derail a proposed wind farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that many lawmakers believe would interfere with a radar system at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The provision directs the Navy to refrain from reaching an agreement with the wind farm developer to turn off the turbines during radar testing at Pax River until MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory completes a $2 million study on the effects of the turbines and options to mitigate those impacts …

Transitioning Veterans Could More Easily Link to Local Services under Heitkamp Bill

  • August 4, 2014
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Legislation introduced by North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) would make it much easier for communities to reach out to newly separated service members and help them overcome challenges in gaining access to services and benefits such as health care and housing, employment and education assistance as they transition back to civilian life. The Connect with Veterans Act 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 …

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