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Posts Tagged ‘defense authorization bill’

Fate of Pilot Test of Commissary Privatization Still up for Grabs

  • July 14, 2015
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A Senate effort to torpedo a provision in the fiscal 2016 defense authorization directing DOD to privatize up to five commissaries through a two-year pilot program appears to have been unsuccessful, leaving the issue to be settled in conference. During its debate of the annual policy bill last month, the Senate passed an amendment intended to strip out the language calling for the pilot. The amendment would have required the department to assess the costs and benefits of privatizing military grocery stores prior to launching the test. But because of the procedure employed to pass the amendment, the original language remains in the measure …

Defense Bill Conference Talks on Fast Track

  • July 14, 2015
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Members of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill are hoping to finish talks by next week. Many issues remain unresolved, but committee leaders are sufficiently optimistic that conferees will continue to makes steady progress that a vote by the House has been tentatively scheduled for July 24, reported CQ Roll Call. Committee members had been scheduled to meet at the subcommittee level last week to reconcile the two versions of the legislation, but those talks were cancelled due to floor votes. Those negotiations will continue this week …

Summer Announcement on Army Downsizing Could Influence Congressional, DOD Deliberations

  • July 12, 2015
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The Army’s announcement as to what installations would absorb the loss of 40,000 soldiers to accommodate discretionary spending caps may have been timed to produce a favorable outcome for the service when lawmakers begin taking up the defense budget, according to several analysts. “One likely reason for the timing is they’re trying to refocus attention on themselves and the cut in hopes of maybe getting this cut reversed or preventing additional ones,” Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told CQ Roll Call. Beyond the debate in Congress over fiscal 2016 defense appropriations and next year’s authorization bill, the Army also is looking to influence Pentagon discussions over initial drafts of the FY 2017 budget …

Senate Votes to Go to Conference with House on Policy Bill

  • July 12, 2015
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The Senate on Thursday agreed to form a conference committee with the House to hash out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, marking the first time since 2012 that Congress has formally convened a House-Senate conference on the annual policy bill. Before approving the motion, the Senate rejected a Democratic proposal to instruct conferees to shift $38 billion in overseas contingency operations funds back to DOD’s base budget. Both versions of the authorization bill follow the GOP budget framework which calls for stashing tens of billions of extra dollars in the department’s war account to elude the statutory spending caps. Democrats have opposed that maneuver in an attempt to strike a budget deal with Republicans to lift the budget caps on both defense and non-defense spending …

Congressional Tide Has Turned on BRAC, Smith Says

  • July 10, 2015
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Congressional opposition to approving a new round of base closures is loosening, even as this year’s Congress has resisted the Obama administration’s request for a BRAC in 2017, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday. “The hostility, the notion that this was completely unacceptable, which existed about a year ago is not there anymore amongst my fellow members is the way I would put it,” Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the most prominent advocate in Congress for a BRAC round, told reporters. Smith dismissed all of the standard arguments, saying they had run their course …

Talks to Reach Compromise over Defense Bill Remain on Track

  • July 9, 2015
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Negotiations to hash out a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill are progressing this week as members of the House and Senate Armed Services subcommittees meet to work out differences in each of their sections. “All the different panels are meeting today and tomorrow and then Friday we intend to wrap it up and be prepared to submit our final decisions,” Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), who chairs the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, told CQ Roll Call. Talks at the subcommittee level are not expected to address several high-profile issues which will be left for the chairmen and ranking members of the two Armed Services committees. Those include provisions dealing with Guantanamo detainees, acquisition reform, and compensation and benefits for military personnel …

Pending Army Cuts Underscore Changing Attitudes about BRAC

  • July 8, 2015
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With the Army expected this week to identify up to 30 installations that could lose thousands of personnel, defense communities are bracing for the worst. “We’re on pins and needles,” Carl McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, told the Washington Post. “To not create a Detroit-like scenario, we cannot lose soldiers. We’ll feel every soldier we lose,” McLaughlin said. A worst case outcome for Fort Drum would mean the loss of 16,000 soldiers and civilians at the post in New York’s North Country. Counting spouses and children, a third of Jefferson County’s population could disappear …

Obama Reiterates Threat to Veto Defense Bill

  • July 7, 2015
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During a rare visit to the Pentagon, President Obama on Monday reiterated his threat to veto the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill because it relies on a budget framework that would shortchange the nation’s future by restraining spending on non-military aspects of national security such as education and research. “We’re not going to eat our seed corn,” Obama said, reported CQ. The military has the best troops in the world in part because “we’ve got a strong economy and we’ve got a well-educated population and we’ve got an incredible research operation and universities,” the president said. “We shortchange those, we’re going to be less secure,” he said …

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 …

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