House, Senate Resolve Impasse over Authorization Bill

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached agreement on a compromise fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill, after breaking an impasse over two Pentagon proposals intended to trim the cost of military compensation.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced the breakthrough on Monday, but did not say how the issues had been resolved.

“We compromised,” Levin told reporters Monday evening. “It takes two, not just to tango, but to compromise.” He indicated details would be released on Tuesday.

The deal on the annual defense policy bill comes just in time for lawmakers to vote on it before the congressional session ends next week. If the compromise bill is released Tuesday, the measure could be brought to the House floor as soon as Thursday, reported CQ. The Senate likely would not vote until after the House approves the legislation.

Talks between Levin and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) had been stuck over two proposals to save DOD from $16 billion to $18 billion through FY 2019. One would slow the growth in the basic allowance for housing below the rate of inflation over the next three years so that the benefit only covers 95 percent of average rental costs. The other would increase pharmacy co-pays for prescriptions filled outside of military treatment facilities. Levin supported both reforms, while McKeon steadfastly refused to include them in any compromise deal.

Dan Cohen
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