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Posts Tagged ‘defense authorization bill’

Congress Needs to Reconsider BRAC Stance, O’Hanlon Argues

  • September 2, 2015
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Lawmakers have resisted many of the cost-saving reforms proposed by the Pentagon in recent years to cope with tight fiscal constraints, including its request to hold one or more rounds of base closures. With the economy improved, though, Congress should rethink its opposition to the Obama administration’s request to hold a BRAC round in 2017, Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues in a commentary published by the National Interest. After DOD conducted five rounds of closures through 2005 — saving up to $12 billion annually — Congress has soured on the process, even as DOD estimates it has at least 20 percent more infrastructure than needed for a force structure reduced by 40 percent since the Cold War …

Kansas Lawmakers Decry Planning Effort to Move Detainees to Ft. Leavenworth

  • August 18, 2015
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Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation have criticized the Pentagon’s decision to assess the feasibility of housing detainees at Fort Leavenworth now held at Guantánamo Bay as it drafts a formal plan for closing the controversial detention center. Defense officials last week traveled to the post in northeastern Kansas; they plan to visit the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., shortly. The surveys are part of the “ongoing effort to identify locations within the United States that can possibly facilitate military commissions and can possibly hold detainees currently at GTMO,” a DOD spokesman told the Voice of America. DOD will consider a variety of “military and civilian sites” to determine whether they can hold the law of war detainees “in a humane and secure manner,” according to the spokesman. “Only those locations that can hold detainees at a maximum security level will be considered …

Policy Bill Talks Stuck on Military Benefits

  • August 4, 2015
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A proposed increase in co-pays for prescriptions has emerged as one of the thorniest issues in negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services committees over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill. As of last week, the ranking members of the two committees had sided with Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) against House Armed Services Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) over the health care fees. McCain, along with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), favor DOD’s plan to increase co-pays for drugs purchased through Tricare by mail or at retail pharmacies while continuing to allow prescriptions to be filled at military clinics for free …

McCain, Thornberry to Continue Talks over Defense Bill

  • July 31, 2015
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Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and his House counterpart, Mac Thornberry, are expected to continue negotiations over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill during Congress’ August recess with the goal of completing a conference report in September. “We’re not going to stay in town, but there are phones and all kinds of ways of communicating and engaging,” McCain said. The two committee leaders planned to meet Thursday night to see if they could make progress on some of the most contentious issues separating the two sides, reported CQ Roll Call. Differences over military benefits have proven to be among the negotiation’s most difficult hurdles, as the Senate version embraces cost-saving proposals to slow the rate of increase in service members’ basic allowance for housing and raise Tricare prescription co-pays that the House rejects …

Housing Allowance, Retirement Benefits Remain Sticking Points for Conferees

  • July 24, 2015
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A handful of outstanding issues are hindering progress by House and Senate conferees negotiating a final version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, and almost certainly will prevent talks from finishing in time for the two chambers to clear a compromise measure before leaving Washington for August recess. Issues holding up the talks include service members’ housing and retirement benefits, along with language in the House version barring the Interior Department from listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species. Members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have met throughout the week, but differences over those issues and others make it doubtful they will meet their target date for agreeing to a conference report, reported CQ Roll Call. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member on House Armed Services, said committee leaders were not planning to meet Thursday, making it extremely unlikely that negotiations could be completed this week …

Conference Agreement on Defense Bill May Be Delayed

  • July 23, 2015
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Lawmakers’ goal to hash out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill before Congress’ August recess may be in jeopardy, according to multiple sources on Capitol Hill. As recently as last Friday, the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees were hoping to complete negotiations in time for the House to take up a conference report next week, with the Senate clearing it the following week. But even as talks among House-Senate conferees continue this week, several congressional staff members have told Inside Defense that lawmakers may not agree on compromise legislation until they return to Washington in September …

Defense Bill Talks Slowed over Military Compensation Issues

  • July 19, 2015
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Progress by House and Senate conferees negotiating a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill slowed last week due to disagreements over service members’ benefits and other key issues. As a result, the target date for the House to vote on a conference report has slipped to the week of July 27, reported CQ Roll Call. If the conferees finish work on a final version of the defense policy bill in time for the House to take it up next week, the Senate still would have time to clear a conference report the following week before starting its August recess …

BRAC Coming Soon, Principi Says

  • July 17, 2015
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A new BRAC round is closer than ever, with Congress certain to approve the next round by 2019, Anthony Principi, chairman of the 2005 BRAC Commission, said Thursday. “If I was a betting man, between now and 2019, I’d say 100 percent,” Principi, chairman of the Principi Group, told the Tampa Tribune following the monthly meeting of the Florida Defense Support Task Force. The new round most likely would be conducted in 2019, he said, although there is a chance that a grand bargain between Congress and the White House could force a BRAC to be held in 2017 …

McCain Worried about President’s Veto Threat on Policy Bill

  • July 16, 2015
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The fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill includes critical reforms to the military retirement system and DOD’s procurement process and will require drastic reductions in headquarters and management personnel, but it may not become law since President Obama has threatened to veto it, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said during remarks delivered at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday. McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he received the most recent threat during a phone call with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, reported Stars and Stripes. “So, we just have a difference of opinion,” he said. “I am very concerned the president will veto it. It is a great concern to me …

Lawmakers Bicker over Housing Allowance Reforms during House-Senate Conference

  • July 15, 2015
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Lawmakers attempting to work out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill on Tuesday largely focused on differences in how the House and Senate versions addressed DOD reforms intended to reduce the cost of the basic allowance for housing (BAH). House members criticized the Senate measure for embracing the changes proposed by the department, reported CQ Roll Call. DOD proposed slowing the rate of increase in the BAH over the next several years until rates cover only 95 percent of service members’ out-of-pocket costs. Last year, leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached a compromise allowing the BAH to cover only 99 percent of rental and utility costs …

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