Senate Approves Authorization Bill Early


first_imgThe Senate on Thursday passed a defense authorization bill for the first time in three years, an achievement that should pave the way for Congress to reach agreement on a compromise measure well before the new fiscal year.The Senate’s failure to pass the annual policy bill in each of the two previous years prevented the House and Senate from convening a formal conference committee to hash out a final version of the legislation. Instead, the chairmen and ranking members of the two Armed Services panels held informal talks to reach a compromise.“This is how the Senate should operate — regular order, on time, giving our military the certainty they need to plan and execute their missions,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), reported CQ.The chamber passed its fiscal 2016 authorization bill 71-25, overcoming Democratic opposition to the measure’s use of DOD’s war account to increase the Pentagon’s budget without busting the statutory spending caps. Passage also came with the looming threat of a presidential veto. The White House has objected to the addition of $38 billion to the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account as an end run around the spending caps, as well as the measure’s failure to grant the administration’s request to hold a BRAC round in 2017.Senior Armed Services Democrats, including ranking member Jack Reed (R.I), opposed the bill due to its reliance on the OCO account. McCain acknowledged that using the war account was not an ideal solution, but at the same time he stressed the need to bolster the defense budget.“I’m not sure we have a greater obligation than that to do everything possible to [protect] the lives of our men and women serving in uniform,” McCain said. “And to get hung up on the method of funding … which many will use as a rationale for opposing this bill, seems to me an upside-down set of priorities. Badly upside-down,” he said. Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img

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