DoD on the Hill

President signs FY2015 Continuing Resolution funding government through Dec 11

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

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The president signed a FY2015 Continuing Resolution (CR)—H.J. Res 124—that will fund the government through December 11, 2014. The House passed the CR (319-108) last Wednesday and the Senate approved it (78-22) on Thursday, 78-22.

After the Senate passed CR, Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said the goal of the CR “is to lay the groundwork for an omnibus funding bill in December that will include all 12 appropriations bills.” Mikulski said she supported the bill because it avoided a government shutdown, does not harm existing important programs, provides funding for the nation’s security, and will allow Congress time to negotiate an omnibus appropriations bill.

The bill sets the discretionary funding level for the federal government during CR period at an annual rate of $1.012 trillion.

Final action on the CR came after agreement was reached on a proposal to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces. The bill allows the Department of Defense (DoD) to reprogram funds provided to DoD in the CR to support this action.

The bill also extends expiring Department of Defense (DoD) activities, such as counterdrug activities and support of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, and provides State Department funding to counter regional aggression toward Ukraine. Additional Veterans Affairs funding is included to process disability claims and to investigate improper conduct, and the Customs and Border Protection receives funding flexibility to address urgent problems. The bill also includes $88 million requested by the administration to address the Ebola crisis, extends the operating authority of the Export-Import Bank through June 30, 2015 and extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act through Dec 11, 2014.

After passing the CR, the House and Senate adjourned for the November mid-term elections. The Senate may convene in October to conduct some business, but the full Congress will not return until after Veterans Day (Nov. 11). At that time Congress will begin a lame duck session to address unfinished business, including the passage of FY2015 appropriations.

To date the House has only passed seven FY2015 appropriations bills while the Senate has passed none. Congress will have less than one month to reach agreement on the details of all 12 appropriations bills, put them together in an omnibus bill, and get it to the president by December 11th. If Congress does not meet this deadline it will have to pass another CR to avert a government shutdown.

House passes Continuing Resolution to keep government running until December 11

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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Today, the House passed (319-108) a FY2015 Continuing Resolution (CR), H.J. Res 124, which would fund the federal government until December 11. The bill sets the discretionary funding level for the federal government during CR period at an annual rate of $1.012 trillion.

The House passed the CR after debating and approving (273-156) an amendment that would authorize support (training and arming) for Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces. “This amendment is of great importance to our national security, and attaching it to this Continuing Resolution will allow its enactment within a swift timeframe,” said House Appropriations Committee chair Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY).

A CR is necessary because less than two weeks remain until the beginning of FY2015 and Congress has not passed any of the 12 appropriations bills. The House has passed seven appropriations bills (including DoD and Military Construction/VA) and approved another four through the full House Appropriations Committee (the HAC has not approved the Labor, HHS bill). The full Senate has not considered a single appropriations bill and the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) has approved only eight bills (including DoD and Military Construction/VA).

The CR “is merely a temporary, Band-Aid funding measure,” Rogers said. But, he stressed, now it is “the most clear path forward—allowing time to draft bicameral pieces of legislation that reflect our real and budgetary requirements.” Final action on FY2015 appropriations bills will have to occur in a lame duck session of Congress after the November mid-term elections. That session is expected to begin right after Veterans Day.

Other than the amendment to authorize support for the Syrian rebels, the House CR is relatively clean of controversial extraneous matters. But, it does include a number of provisions that the Appropriations Committee described as necessary” to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs, to address current national or global crises, or to ensure good government.”

The bill would extend expiring Department of Defense (DoD) activities, such as counterdrug activities and support of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, and provide State Department funding to counter regional aggression toward Ukraine. Additional Veterans Affairs funding is included to process disability claims and to investigate improper conduct and the Customs and Border Protection would receive funding flexibility to address urgent problems. The bill also includes funding $88 million) requested by the administration to address the Ebola crisis.

Addressing two issues that Congress is currently debating, the House CR includes funds to extend the operating authority of the Export Import Bank through June 30, 2015 and to extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act through Dec 11, 2014.

Under the CR, agencies cannot start any new programs or increase production rates and could not initiate any multiyear procurements during the CR period.

The Senate is expected to consider the CR over the next week.  

President recommends 1% pay raise in 2015 for federal civilian personnel

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

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President Obama last week notified Congress that he has determined that federal civilian employees should receive a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise in 2015. In March, the president included a 1 percent civilian pay raise in his FY2015 budget request.

The president also kept locality pay at the 2014 level.

President Obama acknowledged the sacrifices already made by federal civilian employees, such as a three-year pay freeze through January 2014. However, he cited the need to keep the country on a “sustainable fiscal course” as the reason for limiting the pay raise to 1 percent and freezing locality pay.

Each year the president is required under Title 5, section 5304a, U.S.C. to present an alternative pay plan for across-the-board pay and locality pay adjustments. Unless Congress acts the president’s alternative proposal will automatically go into effect.

To date, Congress has expressed general support for a 1% civilian pay raise.  The House-passed FY2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill was silent on the pay raise. This indicates passive support for the president’s 1% pay raise proposal in that it does not reject it. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its approval of the FY2015 DoD Appropriations bill, also includes funds for a 1 percent civilian pay raise. No other appropriations committees’ action to date would prohibit a 1% civilian pay raise.

The military pay raise for 2015 will be at least 1 percent, as the president proposed in the FY2015 budget request. The House-passed FY2015 Defense Authorization bill provides a 1.8 percent military pay raise, while the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) approved bill includes a 1 percent military pay raise

Senate committee approves FY2015 DoD appropriations bill

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved its version of the FY2015 DoD Appropriations bill last week.

The SAC bill provides $490 billion for DoD appropriations in the base budget (excluding military construction, which is provided in a separate bill), $1 billion below the request. The bill also includes $58.3 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), $200 million below the president’s request.

Sen. Barbara Milkulski (D-MD) called the bill “a good bill for our men and women in uniform.” “It emphasizes readiness, cares for our wounded warriors, takes steps to improve health on our military bases and provides resources needed to keep our nation secure”, she said.

The House bill, passed last month, provides $491 billion for the base DoD budget and $79.4 billion for OCO.

The SAC bill would provide funding for 1 percent military pay raise as proposed by the president. The House-passed bill funds a 1.8 percent military pay raise as authorized under the House-passed FY2015 Defense Authorization bill. The SAC also approves the administration request to freeze pay for general and flag officers and allow for slower Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) growth.

The bill also funds a 1 percent civilian pay raise requested by the president.

The SAC bill would fund the Defense Health Program (DHP) at $31.6 billion ($400 million below the request), essentially the same level as the House-passed bill. The bill would add $200 million to the Defense Commissary Agency funding request to maintain operations and block the president’s proposed cut to the commissary subsidy. The bill also cuts $20 million from Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) funding to reflect a five percent personnel reduction.

Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding in the SAC bill would total $165.8 billion, only slightly below the administration’s request, but $1 billion more than the House-passed bill. The SAC includes funding increases for facility sustainment (+$1 billion) and depot maintenance ($+360 million).

The SAC bill includes about $850 million to refuel the USS George Washington, denying the administration’s plan to defer a decision on refueling until the FY2016 budget. The House also provided funding for refueling. The SAC also funds continued operations of A-10 aircraft, blocking (like the House) the administration proposal to retire the A-10 fleet.

Procurement funding in the bill totals $91.4 billion, $1.7 billion higher than the request and about $200 million over the House-passed bill. Included in the SAC procurement funding are: two attack submarines and three Littoral Combat Ships; 34 F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) and 7 KC-46A tankers, 12 EA-18G Growlers, and 79 H-60 Blackhawk and 37 MH-60S/R helicopters.

The SAC bill includes $62.6 billion for research and development, almost $1 billion less than the request and about $200 less than the House. Among the programs receiving R&D funding are: the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV); the long-range strike bomber; and the KC-tanker. The SAC also added almost $800 million for medical research with a special focus on Peer-Reviewed Medical Research and Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research.

To reallocate funding to higher priorities identified by the Committee, the SAC made 517 separate program cuts totaling $11.7 billion. The funding reductions include: $6.6 billion for excess prior-year unobligated balances and forward financing; $2.7 billion due to schedule delays, cost growth, program concurrency and poor contractor performance; $1.3 billion to eliminate unnecessary program growth; and $1.1 billion for program redundancy, insufficient documentation, and program terminations. The SAC bill also cuts $500 million (3 percent) form the IT budget request to encourage prioritization of non-cybersecurity investments.

Given the Senate’s stalemate over the amendment process for floor action on appropriations bills, it is unclear when the defense bill will be considered on the Senate floor. To date the full Senate has not considered any FY2015 appropriations bill, while the House has passed seven (including the DOD bill). It is also unclear whether the defense bill will be a stand-alone bill or will be included in a continuing resolution (CR). With the August recess less than two weeks away and the mid-term congressional elections looming, it is becoming more likely that a CR may be considered sooner rather than later and final congressional action on most appropriations bills will be deferred until after the election.

President requests $58.6 billion for FY2015 Overseas Contingency Operations

Monday, June 30th, 2014

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The budget request for DoD Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for FY2015 is $58.6 billion, the White House announced late last week. The enacted level of OCO funding in FY2014 was 85.3 billion.

The amended budget request submitted by the president is $20.8 billion less than the $79.4 billion funding placeholder included in the budget request sent to Congress in March.

The OCO request will fund $54.3 billion for DoD costs for Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, $0.3 billion for transition activities in Iraq, $4 billion for the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF), and almost $1 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).

Based on the president’s recently-announced redeployment decision, U.S troop levels in Afghanistan will decline to 9,800 by the end of December 2014, with further decrease to 5,000 by December 2015. Average troop levels in Afghanistan will decline from 37,234 in FY2014 to 11,661 in FY2015.

However, the DoD costs for war-related support will not decline proportionately, according to DoD justification material. DoD’s forward presence around the Middle East in support of OEF will not decline significantly in FY2015. Costs for transporting troops and equipment back to the United States and to retrograde equipment and reset the force will continue, as will costs to close bases, conduct associated environmental remediation, and to dispose of unexploded ordnance. Continued costs are also necessary to meet the demands for high-end Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and to support the Afghan National Security Forces, according to DoD.

The OCO request includes $11 billion for operations and force protection in Afghanistan. These costs support special pays and the pay and allowances for mobilized Reserve Component personnel, deployed civilian personnel costs, ground combat and aviation operating costs, C4I, and supplies and sustainment costs.

The funding request also will provide $18.1 billion for in-theater support outside of Afghanistan. Forces providing this support include afloat and expeditionary forces, engineers and fire support, and other capabilities that support troops operating in Afghanistan. In addition to OPTEMPO costs and transportation, this funding includes maintenance and contractor logistics and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) services, fuel losses, and fuel transportation.

Investment and equipment reset costs of $9.2 billion in the request will fund the replenishment of ammunition and missiles expended in combat ($0.6 billion), replacement of equipment that was lost in combat ($0.3 billion) and worn out equipment for which repair was not considered economical ($1.4 billion). This reset request also includes $6.6 billion to repair tactical vehicles, radios, and support equipment at the depot or field level. Another $0.3 billion will fund the reset of force protection equipment, including communication and electronic, physical security, and aircraft survivability equipment.

Non-DoD and other classified costs totaling $6.5 billion, funding for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund ($4.1 billion) for training and operations, coalition support ($1.7 billion) to reimburse key coalition partners and provide support for specialized training and equipment, and $4 billion for the Counter Terrorism Partnership Fund (CTPF) account for most of the remaining $4 billion.

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