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Posts Tagged ‘defense budget’

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 …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

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