Senate Weighs Flawed Defense Authorization Bill

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In the face of a veto threat from President Obama, the Senate is expected to vote this week on a defense authorization bill.

In a statement of administration policy issued last week, the administration said the legislation lacks cost-saving reforms and includes greatly inflated funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

The White House slammed the bill for nearly $40 billion dollars of additional OCO funding, which is supposed to directly support combat operations and is exempt from caps set by the Budget Control Act.

Such high OCO funding, however, is a gimmick to avoid defense spending caps, as watchdog groups and some lawmakers from both parties have pointed out.

The White House also expressed disappointment that the legislation does not include reforms that could reduce wasteful spending and slow the growth of compensation costs. Such reforms would include a new round of base closures and changes to basic pay, housing allowances and health care benefits.

The White House cited similar concerns earlier last month with the House bill.

The Senate legislation — like the House version — does include a recommendation from a congressionally-appointed commission to reform the military’s retirement system.

External links:
Statement of Administration Policy (White House)
Reforms in Military Health Care Could Slow Rising Costs (Concord)
Defense Authorization Act Brings Further Debate on War Funding (Concord)
Base Closures Could Help Stretch Defense Dollars (Concord)

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