House Opts to Move New Defense Bill Reflecting $5B Reduction

The House will take up a new version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill this week that reflects last week’s budget agreement, rather than attempt to override President Obama’s veto of the original legislation, House Republicans said Tuesday.

The revised measure will authorize $5 billion less in funding after the two-year budget agreement called for $33 billion in defense spending above the Budget Control Act cap for FY 2016, an increase that didn’t quite meet the $38 billion in extra funds Congress and the administration had planned for.

“The new legislation, which is otherwise identical to the NDAA that passed the House and Senate earlier this year, has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Chairman Thornberry,” according to a statement from the House Armed Services Committee.

The bill is expected to be voted on by the chamber Thursday.

On Monday, the House and Senate Armed Services committees and defense appropriators agreed on cuts to reduce the topline funding level in the authorization bill by $5 billion. Two of the reductions in authorizations would hurt readiness — an account already stressed to the limit — with the Army absorbing a $250 million cut and the Army National Guard a $193 million cut, reported the Hill. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently declared readiness as the service’s highest priority as it shrinks in size.

Lawmakers also took aim at DOD headquarters, adding a $453 million reduction to a previously planned reduction of $353 million intended to streamline staffing levels.

Todd Harrison, a budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted the authorization bill is a policy bill and not a spending measure. “This list is for the authorizers, so take this as a suggestion. It’s for the appropriators to decide where to ultimately put the funding,” he told Defense News.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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