• Senate Inches Closer to Agreement on FY’17 CR0

    Negotiations over a fiscal 2017 stopgap measure needed to keep the government open when the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1 are “largely done,” according to one senator participating in the talks, but as of Wednesday night there was no indication that an agreement had been reached. Earlier in the day, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the negotiations were wrapping up, reported CQ Roll Call. Other lawmakers, however, insisted a deal should not be expected yet. “There’s been a lot of back and forth,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “I just don’t think [Democrats] are in a big hurry to do this because they’d like to keep all of our 2016ers here and not back home campaigning …

  • Experts Battle over True State of Military Readiness

    Experts Battle over True State of Military Readiness0

    A story in Stars and Stripes this week takes a balanced look at the debate over whether the nation’s military is in the throes of a readiness crisis. For much of the year, the House Armed Services Committee has delivered a steady drumbeat of press releases and links to news stories highlighting shortcomings in military readiness. “The rate of deployments has remained consistently high for over a decade, but the military resources available to meet those threats are declining. As it stands, we cannot meet combatant commander requirements, reliably maintain our equipment, or fully train and care for our troops,” Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said earlier this month after the Government Accountability Office released a report on the military’s effort to rebuild its low readiness levels …

  • Lawmakers Reach Deal on Zika Language as CR Talks Continue0

    Senators negotiating a fiscal 2017 continuing resolution (CR) reached agreement on one of the talks’ major sticking points but continue to hash out a number of other issues. Over the weekend, lawmakers resolved most of their differences over policy language from a conference agreement on emergency funding to fight Zika, with Republicans agreeing to drop a provision prohibiting Planned Parenthood affiliates in Puerto Rico from receiving funds, reported CQ Roll Call. Language waiving a requirement for mosquito spraying to obtain permits under the Clean Water Act also has been dropped …

  • Defense Bill Talks Derailed over Sage Grouse Provision

    Defense Bill Talks Derailed over Sage Grouse Provision0

    Even while House and Senate negotiators hashing out a compromise version of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill have resolved many of the most contentious issues, the talks ground to a halt Wednesday night over a House provision barring the greater sage grouse from being protected under the Endangered Species Act.
    Following the break down, leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees indicated further discussions will not take place until lawmakers return to Capitol Hill for a lame duck session after the November elections. That would leave Congress little time to respond to an expected presidential veto, putting in jeopardy the Armed Services committees’ 54-year streak of getting the bill enacted annually …

  • Budget Issues Are Hampering Modernization, Readiness, Service Chiefs Testify

    Budget Issues Are Hampering Modernization, Readiness, Service Chiefs Testify0

    The combination of uncertainty resulting from Congress’ reliance on stopgap spending bills and stringent fiscal constraints stemming from statutory budget caps has harmed readiness and jeopardized national security, the military’s most senior officers told lawmakers Thursday. “Eight years of continuing resolutions, including a year of sequestration, have driven additional costs and time into just about everything that we do,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The services are essentially operating in three fiscal quarters per year now. Nobody schedules anything important in the first quarter. The destruction that this uncertainty imposes translates directly into risk to our Navy and our nation …

  • Agreement on FY’17 CR Pushed Back0

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) postponed a procedural vote on a continuing resolution (CR) until Monday as congressional leaders on Thursday acknowledged that talks on a measure to keep the government running past Sept. 30 are taking longer than expected. Moving the vote until Monday evening will give lawmakers more time to settle differences over emergency funding to combat Zika and the text for a short-term stopgap, McConnell said. The vote could be delayed beyond Monday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, because senators will want to see the text before the cloture vote …