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Posts Tagged ‘sequestration’

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 …

OEA Plans to Support Communities Coping with Downsizing

  • June 23, 2015
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With more than a dozen communities experiencing downsizing at neighboring military installations over the past several years and further cuts in personnel looming, DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment is planning to offer financial assistance and other support to affected communities. The agency plans to issue an announcement next month in the Federal Register soliciting communities to apply for grants to address personnel reductions — including military and civilian — of at least 2,000 at local installations, OEA Director Patrick O’Brien said Monday during the OEA Town Hall session at the 2015 Defense Communities National Summit. Communities would be eligible if they suffered the cuts over the past three years or are slated to absorb them over the next three years …

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 …

Veto Threat is Real, White House Press Secretary Says

  • June 18, 2015
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President Obama will veto the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill absent a deal that provides budget relief to domestic agencies, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday. Earnest’s response to a reporter’s question represents a somewhat stiffer threat than the typical language the Office of Management and Budget uses in objecting to legislation, namely that the president’s “senior advisers would recommend” a veto, reported CQ. Earnest described several reasons why Obama would veto the defense spending bill unless the budget caps were lifted for non-defense agencies. “One is that the funding mechanism that Republicans have floated is one that many leading Republicans have previously described as nothing more than a gimmick …

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 …

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 …

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