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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Democrats Counting on Strategy for FY’16 Spending to Bring GOP to Bargaining Table

  • July 2, 2015
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It’s too soon to tell whether the Senate Democrats’ strategy of blocking the chamber from bringing appropriations bills to the floor will achieve the party’s goal of forcing the GOP to the negotiating table to work out a deal to lift the spending caps on both defense and non-defense spending for fiscal 2016. It carries some risk as demonstrated by Senate Democrats’ move last month to stop the Senate from considering the FY 2016 defense spending measure. Afterwards Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Democrats for recently approving the defense authorization bill but then turning around and voting against the legislation that would actually fund the military. But Democratic leaders believe their strategy is the best way to reach a compromise with Republicans over next year’s spending bills …

Next DOD Budget to Consider Eliminating Select Missions

  • June 26, 2015
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After three years of living within tight fiscal constraints, defense officials will begin to consider jettisoning lower-priority missions to free up funds for the department’s most critical functions.
The wholesale cancellation of select missions is the only way to free up billions of dollars in a single budget year, Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense, said this week. And regardless of whether lawmakers strike a deal to give the Pentagon more breathing room under the statutory spending caps, top officials are preparing for an extremely constrained topline budget number, reported Federal News Radio. “It’s going to be tough. There’s no simple way out of this problem,” Work said at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. “The fact is that we’re going to have to really prioritize and be ruthless about it …

Smith Outlines Recipe for Sustaining DOD

  • June 26, 2015
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It’s not exactly a tightly-held secret that the Defense Department would like to spend a lot more money in the coming years than it is likely to get. And as long as the spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act remain in effect and partisan differences prevent Congress from striking a long-term budget deal, the Pentagon will continue to struggle to carry out all of its missions. But there is a way out of this predicament, Washington Rep. Adam Smith (D), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said this week during the congressional keynote at the 2015 Defense Communities National Summit. The first step is for lawmakers to scrap the Budget Control Act and replace it with a new long-term spending plan …

House Votes to Go to Conference on Defense Bill

  • June 26, 2015
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The House on Thursday voted to go to conference on the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill after the Senate removed language from its version that ran afoul of a constitutional requirement that legislation affecting revenue must originate in the House. Fixing the procedural issue delayed the House vote by a day. After the vote, Republicans and Democrats in the House named their representatives to the conference committee. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) named 18 House Republican conferees; the Democrats will have 14. The Senate will likely name its conferees after the July 4 break, reported the Hill. The Senate stripped out a section from its version related to the treatment of the DOD Military Retirement Fund as a qualifying trust, which constitutes a revenue measure …

House Vote on Conference Committee for Policy Bill Hits Snag

  • June 25, 2015
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A House vote on a motion to request a conference committee for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill was postponed Wednesday to give the Senate time to remove language that runs afoul of a constitutional requirement that legislation affecting revenue must originate in the House. The offending language is included in a portion of the Senate bill that alters the military retirement system, John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CQ Roll Call. McCain expressed confidence he could get obtain unanimous consent on the Senate floor on Thursday to remove the provisions. At this point, it doesn’t appear the snafu should slow down both chambers’ intent to reach agreement on a compromise measure quickly. McCain, along with House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), recently have expressed confidence that lawmakers could produce a conference report by sometime in July …

Military Will Manage Even as Infrastructure Scrapes By, Conger Says

  • June 24, 2015
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The nation’s defense infrastructure has not been adequately maintained for the past several years as the Pentagon diverts funds for installation support to higher priority readiness needs, but the military will be able to cope even if the stringent budget caps forcing officials to skimp on facility needs continue through the end of the decade, the department’s top installations official said this week at the 2015 Defense Communities National Summit. “We’ve done this before and survived it,” said John Conger, acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, referring to a similar situation in the 1990s. “It takes years for buildings to crumble …

Army, Air Force Not Currently Planning to Bypass BRAC

  • June 24, 2015
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Despite threats from the Obama administration to resort to alternative options if Congress fails to approve its request for a new BRAC round, the Air Force and Army have no immediate plans to rely on a rarely used authority to close or realign bases outside of a BRAC round, installation officials said Tuesday at the 2015 Defense Communities National Summit. Before taking a step to use 10 U.S.C. Sec. 2687, the Air Force would wait for direction from the Defense Department, said Col. Jonathan Webb, director of Air Force Installations Planning. It wouldn’t be prudent to sidestep the BRAC process, Webb said …

Blunt Shows Unwavering Support for Missouri Installations, Military Veterans

  • June 24, 2015
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Sen. Roy Blunt has tirelessly supported Missouri’s role vital role in the nation’s defense during his first term in the Senate, as he has fought to sustain and expand missions at each of the state’s military installations. Blunt championed several key state defense priorities as part of the 2014 omnibus spending agreement, including $337 million to keep the Air Force’s A-10 fleet flying at Whiteman Air Force Base and elsewhere, and $1.46 billion to build 15 new Growler aircraft in St. Louis. He also worked to preserve the Missouri National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing training base in St. Joseph and the Army Aviation Flight Activity and the Missouri National Guard Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot, which are co-located in Springfield …

BRAC Round Inevitable, Experts Say

  • June 23, 2015
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Congress is likely to approve a new round of base closures within five years, as BRAC is not the political third rail it’s frequently described as, Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Monday at the opening general session of the 2015 Defense Communities National Summit. While lawmakers are naturally disinclined against authorizing the Pentagon to close additional installations, the consequences of DOD’s worsening budget situation should help persuade Congress that a BRAC round is needed, Eaglen told more than 500 Summit attendees. The Budget Control Act caps have resulted in deteriorating readiness levels for the military, an indication of less frequent training and lower spending on facility maintenance, she explained …

McCain Pledges Speedy Conference Agreement on Policy Bill

  • June 19, 2015
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A House-Senate compromise on the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill could be wrapped up in a matter of weeks, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters Thursday shortly after the Senate passed its version of the annual policy bill. “I am totally convinced we can get the bill back out of conference in July, and probably early July,” McCain said. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of House Armed Services, has made similar comments indicating a quick timeline to reconciling the two chamber’s versions is likely. “There are not significant differences,” McCain said, reported CQ. “Our reforms go quite a bit further than those in the House bill, but I have a very close working relationship with the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and I’m confident we can resolve those differences and resolve them quickly …

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