Armed Services Panels Close in on Compromise Bill

The leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are aiming shortly to finish hammering out an agreement on a fiscal 2015 compromise defense authorization bill after negotiations stalled Friday.

The chairmen and ranking members of each chamber’s panel continued to meet Monday to settle high profile issues, with the Army’s plan to shift 192 Apache attack helicopters from the National Guard to the active Army representing one of the most contentious sticking points.

The authorization bill passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee calls for the creation of an independent commission to review the balance of forces and roles among the Army’s active and reserve components, while blocking officials from moving all but 48 of the Guard helicopters until the commission completes its review in early 2016. The House version of the annual defense policy bill bars the Army from shifting any Apache helicopters to the active component.

DOD has told House and Senate negotiators that blocking the Army’s plan would harm readiness and modernization because billions of dollars in planned savings would not occur, reported CQ. Officials told the lawmakers that establishing an independent commission would be “unnecessary and untimely.”

The committees’ leaders are hoping to reach agreement on an informal conference bill that can quickly pass both chambers during the lame duck session.


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