Defense funding bills still on hold in Congress 


Bill Loper
Director, Government Affairs

Even though Congress knows in early January that the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, I must write that, yet again, we are two weeks from that date and no appropriations bills have been sent to the president nor has a defense authorization bill been sent to the president.

That of course means that federal agencies will be funded at their 2010 levels through a continuing resolution until Congress finally gets off the dime (so to speak) and shows us the money!

The continuing resolution will cover spending at least until mid-November after the election. Then the "lame duck" session will have to decide whether to act or pass another continuing resolution that will kick the can into February when the new Congress would have to finish the appropriations process that should be done already!

Further, the Senate has failed to break a filibuster of its version of the Defense Authorization Bill. It came to the floor of the Senate in late September just before Congress left to begin campaigning for the November elections. Now the presumption is that it will be brought up again in November during the "lame duck" session.

Amendments on the Senate floor (if it ever reaches the floor) are expected including ones that are important to AUSA members on expanding concurrent receipt, increasing the pay raise by 1.9 percent, eliminating the SBP/DIC offset and early retirement credit for mobilized reserve components soldiers.

Should it pass at some point, it will have to be reconciled with the already-passed House version in a conference committee.

So, at best, it seems we are looking at a completed defense authorization bill in January…. maybe.

The Defense Appropriations bill is still in committee in both the House and Senate. The Senate version currently has $157 billion for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It includes money for a 1.4 percent pay raise for military personnel (AUSA will urge 1.9 percent), $31.5 billion for military health care programs and $20 million for cyber security pilot programs among many other things.

However, none of that money will be going anywhere until November at the soonest.

Rather than me continuing to beat that horse, let’s turn to a more pleasant subject.

The AUSA Annual Meeting is just around the corner. We expect record numbers of people interested in our Army to arrive in Washington to spend time attending professional development seminars, kicking tires on the exhibit floor, hearing inspirational and often gut-wrenching stories of war from the Soldiers who lived them, and breaking bread in a reunion-like atmosphere.

The Congressional Staff Breakfast is on track to break attendance records again, and the Resolutions Committee is ready to create AUSA’s legislative agenda for 2011.

In the meantime your AUSA government affairs team will continue to advocate for passage of legislation that matters to our members and our Army.