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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

Senate Could Finish Work This Week on Authorization Bill

  • June 17, 2015
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The Senate could move to a final vote on the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill before the end of the week, after the chamber on Tuesday voted to end debate on the measure. Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters, “I’m very, very guardedly optimistic that we’ll get it done by Thursday,” reported the Hill. The chamber’s debate over the annual policy bill, S. 1376, has been slowed by a dispute over amendments, but lawmakers took up three on Tuesday …

Senate Bill Would Allow Favorable Lease Terms to Local Schools

  • June 17, 2015
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Local school systems would be able to lease property at military installations for less than fair market value, under a provision in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill now under debate in the Senate. The bill would amend 10 U.S.C. Section 2667 — the federal statute authorizing the enhanced use leasing program — to allow the military services to lease non-excess property for less than fair market value to a local education agency, or to an elementary or secondary school. The change is intended to help school systems that support military families, according to the committee report accompanying the legislation. The bill text, S. 1376, and committee report, S. Rpt. 114-49, are available on congress.gov.

Amendment Would Require OEA Report on Support for Army Communities

  • June 16, 2015
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The Office of Economic Adjustment would be required to submit a report to Congress on funding that could be made available to communities affected by the Army’s latest restructuring, under an amendment added to the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill last week by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Army shortly is expected to announce how it will realign its forces to shrink its end strength by up to 70,000 soldiers by fiscal 2020. Officials announced a similar restructuring in June 2013. At the time, the Army said it would deactivate 10 brigade combat teams to eliminate 80,000 personnel and cut its end strength to 490,000. This latest reduction could trim active-duty forces to 420,000 …

Pilot to Privatize Commissaries Should Be Postponed, Inhofe Says

  • June 16, 2015
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A proposal to privatize five commissaries under a two-year pilot program should be stripped from the Senate version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, according to a commentary by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) published in Military Times. Congress should complete an evaluation of the feasibility of privatizing military grocery stores before launching a pilot program, writes Inhofe, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. “Privatizing military commissaries before conducting an assessment of the costs and benefits of such significant reform is irresponsible,” he states. “I want to know the cost and savings as well as the risks and benefits associated with privatization before any action is taken,” Inhofe says …

Limited Debate to Resume in Senate on Authorization Bill

  • June 14, 2015
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Senate debate on the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill is expected to continue Tuesday after little movement last week and votes on only a handful of amendments. On Thursday, Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters the bill was now “unstuck” and he hoped the Senate would debate a number of amendments before moving to final passage. Lawmakers eventually agreed to hold votes on two amendments tomorrow. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed a procedural motion Thursday to allow him to cut off debate on the annual defense policy measure, S. 1376; that vote is expected Tuesday, reported the Hill. Democrats earlier blocked a move by McConnell to attach a cybersecurity bill to the underlying measure.

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 …

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