In the face of substantial differences over a variety of issues in the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, the lead staff for the congressional committees that produced the two measures said the bills aren’t as far apart as it may seem.“The objectives are the same, the intent is the same,” Chris Brose, staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday at an American Enterprise Institute event.One of the tougher issues that will need to be settled in conference is funding. While they both stick to the topline requested by the Obama administration for DOD’s base budget, the House adds $18 billion from the department’s overseas contingency operations account for base budget needs not requested by the Pentagon. That maneuver, though, would shortchange funding for overseas operations and force the next administration to request supplementary war funds before the end of April. As a result, the White House has threatened to veto the measure.Bob Simmons, staff director for House Senate Armed Services, defended the bill’s fiscal approach, pointing out that Democrats had used it in the past, reported Defense News.“We’re doing all these things to help the Department of Defense,” Simmons added. “If [the president is] going to veto it, he’s operating under false pretenses. We are taking care of the warfighter. We want to make sure those kids go into harm’s way with what they need.”The Senate version did not adopt the House framework, but Brose noted that SASC Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) also sought extra funds to pay for more equipment and higher force levels.“We have no disagreement over the need for this, and the challenge is how you deliver it with a topline both sides agree is inadequate,” Brose said.The Senate version also contains provisions that are opposed by the White House, including language that splits the position of undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics into two posts — an undersecretary of defense for research and engineering and the renamed undersecretary for management and support.The committee’s reforms continue last year’s approach, which placed more acquisition authority in the hands of the services, Brose said. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
The National Black Public Relations Society will be hosting a political cipher: Why We Still Matter in America in response to the current political climate and its surrounding issues of individual rights, race, gender and policy in America. The panel will be held on Oct. 20 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th St. NW. Panelists include Communications Director at the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Kiara Pesante, the principal for the Podesta Group, Dana Thompson, the National Director of Faith and African american Engagement for Enroll America, David Street, the Senior Vice Chairman of DCGOP, Ralph Chattams, the President of D.C. Democratic Women’s Club and Pastor, Rev. Dr. E. Gail Anderson Holness and the Co-founder of Higher Heights, Kimberly Peller-Allen. Barbara Holt Streeter will be the moderator. The event is free. To register for the event, visit eventbrite.com.