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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

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 …

Senate Democrats Make Their Stand on Defense Spending Bill

  • June 19, 2015
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Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked the chamber from starting debate on the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill, the first step in a strategy designed to force Republicans to enter talks to raise the Budget Control Act spending caps. The chamber’s 50-45 vote fell 10 votes short of the 60 votes need to proceed to the $575 billion measure and left uncertain how Congress would enact spending bills for the next fiscal year. The Democrats’ risky move had been expected, as party leaders had threatened in recent weeks to filibuster appropriations bills that either stick to the spending caps or shield the Pentagon from the budget limits while ignoring domestic agencies. The defense measure stashes $38 billion of funding beyond the Obama administration’s request in the department’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to get around the statutory spending cap …

Senate Approves Authorization Bill Early

  • June 19, 2015
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The Senate on Thursday passed a defense authorization bill for the first time in three years, an achievement that should pave the way for Congress to reach agreement on a compromise measure well before the new fiscal year. The Senate’s failure to pass the annual policy bill in each of the two previous years prevented the House and Senate from convening a formal conference committee to hash out a final version of the legislation. Instead, the chairmen and ranking members of the two Armed Services panels held informal talks to reach a compromise. “This is how the Senate should operate — regular order, on time, giving our military the certainty they need to plan and execute their missions,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain …

Senate Removes Commissary Privatization Program from Defense Bill

  • June 18, 2015
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The Senate on Wednesday stripped from the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill language directing the Defense Department to privatize up to five commissaries through a two-year pilot program. Lawmakers also passed a second procedural vote to end debate on the annual policy bill, setting up a final vote for passage which likely will take place Thursday. The 84-14 vote also signaled the Democrats’ decision not to filibuster the authorization bill over its reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations account to exceed the Budget Control Act spending caps. Instead, Senate Democrats will resume that fight over the defense spending bill. The party is expected to block a vote, which could come today, to debate the spending measure in the Senate …

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