8 October 2015 Legislative News Update
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published
every Thursday when Congress is in session.
AUSA Priority Resolutions Stress Readiness, Troops and the Future
In advance of next week’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, the Association of the U.S. Army has announced its Priority Resolutions for 2016.
Modeled after the priorities set by Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley, the resolutions stress readiness, preparing for the future, and taking care of soldiers. AUSA calls for a bigger base budget; a floor of 990,000 soldiers for the total force; and more attention to researching, developing and ultimately purchasing weapons systems to increase the capability of overmatching any potential enemy.
AUSA resolutions call for a $135 billion base budget for fiscal year 2017—a $9 billion increase over 2016—and full funding of operational needs in the overseas contingency operations account that supplements the regular budget. A $135 billion Army budget would be about $6 billion more than previously planned for 2017.
The 990,000 floor for troop strength endorsed in the AUSA resolutions essentially calls for all personnel reductions to stop. The five-year defense plan calls for the Army to drop to 980,000 in 2017, but AUSA supports a force of 460,000 active, 335,000 Army National Guard and 195,000 Army Reserve soldiers.
AUSA also expects adequate funding to be provided for recruiting, retention and quality of life initiatives, something needed to ensure the continued success of the all-volunteer force.
Concerned about gaps in training and readiness, AUSA calls for enough operations and maintenance funding to have 90 percent of vehicles and watercraft fleets and 75 percent of aircraft fleets operationally ready, and to fully fund the demands of combatant commanders for trained and available units.
Investment in the Army’s future also is a Priority Resolution. AUSA supports robust funding for research, development, test and evaluation and for procurement, something viewed as essential to maintain and increase capabilities. AUSA also supports fully funding, training and staffing the Army’s acquisition and contracting workforces.
For a link to the resolutions, click here
Defense Policy Bill Clears Congress
This week, the Senate followed the House lead and passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2016. The $604.2 billion bill authorizes $515 billion in spending for defense and an additional $89.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
The measure is now headed to the president, but whether or not he signs it or vetoes it is uncertain. Although the total dollar value meets the president’s request, the sticking point is the extra $38 billion Congress added to the OCO account which is not bound by spending caps. The president and Democrats in Congress want funding for domestic accounts to be increased also.
If the president does veto the legislation, it would be only the fifth time that has happened in more than 50 years.
The NDAA, a policy bill, is separate from the appropriations, which provides funding. The fate of that bill remains unknown, with the Army operating under temporary funding that expires Dec. 11.
For all of these shenanigans, troops are still set to get a 1.3 percent pay raise on Jan. 1, something that won’t change if the defense authorization is vetoed.
What’s next: We wait to see if the legislation is vetoed. If it is sent back to Congress, there are not enough votes in the House to override the veto. Additionally, until the fate of the bill is decided, the Senate Armed Services Committee won’t act on the nomination of Eric Fanning to be the next Army secretary.