McCain amendment adds $17 billion to defense, increases pay

McCain amendment adds $17 billion to defense, increases pay

By Scott Maucione | @smaucioneWFED

May 26, 2016 1:30 pm
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants to add $17 billion to the defense budget and force senators to take sides over defense on the Senate floor next week.

McCain’s amendment to the 2017 defense authorization bill would suspend the drawdown of the Army and Marine Corps and increase the pay raise for active duty troops to 2.1 percent.

If passed, the amendment will reconcile some of the most glaring differences between the House version of the bill and Senate version of the bill. That could save lawmakers a lot of arguing if the bill makes it to conference further in the legislative process.

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has already said he is supportive of the amendment.

McCain’s amendment authorizes the Army to keep its active duty troop levels at 475,000, the Navy at about 326,000, the Marine Corps at 185,000 and the Air Force at 321,000.

That’s a big change considering the Army is planning to bring its active duty levels to 450,000 by 2018. In the past year, a majority of those involuntarily separated from the Army have been experienced officers and enlisted soldiers with 20 years or more of experience.

The amendment also stops drawdowns in the National Guard and Reserves.

Justin Johnson, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said adding those troops will be a costly endeavor. He estimates the price tag at $1.5 billion to $2 billion just for 2017. That doesn’t include enduring costs.

The amendment increases procurement for the services. It calls for an additional 10 Apache helicopters, consistent with the recommendation by the National Commission on the Future of the Army. Those helicopters would cost $71 million.

The amendment increases funds for Navy aircraft procurement, Army tank modernization and adds nearly $2 billion for Navy ship building and conversion.

McCain also wants to give hundreds of millions of dollars in procurement funds for Israel’s missile defense programs.

Last week, McCain said he was unsure of the amendment’s fate.

“I don’t know whether or not the amendment will succeed, but the Senate must have this debate and senators must choose a side,” McCain said.

McCain’s Democratic counterpart on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), is in favor of increased defense spending, but he would want to see an increase in domestic spending to go along with it, said a committee staffer.

Last year, President Barack Obama vetoed the defense authorization bill over concerns that it raised defense spending without increasing domestic spending. It’s possible many Senate Democrats will feel the same way about increasing the defense caps this year.

McCain did not say whether he supported an increase in the domestic spending caps, but said he would like to see more funding for agencies like the FBI, CIA and Director of National Intelligence.

The House defense authorization and defense appropriations bills have already built in extra funds for DoD through some budgetary acrobatics, a move critics have called a “gimmick.”

The House Armed Services Committee plans to take $18 billion from Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and move it into the base budget. That $18 billion would be used to fund an increased military pay raise and to bolster troop levels by 27,000.

What would be left in OCO is $41 billion, instead of the original $59 billion requested by the President. That’s enough to cover the wars until April 2017.

At that point, if the new President wants more money, he can ask Congress for an additional wartime fund.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has already expressed his displeasure over how the House plans to increase the defense budget.

“It’s gambling with warfighting money at a time of war — proposing to cut off funding for ongoing operations in the middle of the fiscal year. Moreover, it would spend money taken from the war account on things that are not DoD’s highest priorities across the joint force,” Carter said during a speech this week. “And it’s another road to nowhere, with uncertain chances of ever becoming law, and a high probability of leading to more gridlock and another continuing resolution — exactly the kind of terrible distraction we’ve seen for years, that undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles friends and emboldens foes.”

The White House said the President would veto the House plan if it came to the President’s desk.

Adm. Michelle Howard picked to lead U.S. Navy forces in Europe

President Obama has nominated the Navy’s highest-ranking woman to lead U.S. Navy forces in Europe.

Adm. Michelle Howard is tapped to head U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command, in Naples, Italy, according to a Thursday Defense Department announcement.

Navy’s first female admiral lined up for another 4-star post

Howard, a 1982 Naval Academy graduate, has had a storied career. She was the first black woman to command a U.S. warship and would later oversee the counter-piracy task force that freed civilian Capt. Richard Phillips, which was the subject of the movie “Captain Phillips.” She also was the first woman to reach the rank of 4-star admiral.

Howard receives fourth star, makes history

The daughter of an Air Force master sergeant, she said she confronted prejudice early in her naval career; peers say she built a career by taking tough jobs. She has served for two years as the vice chief of naval operations.

If confirmed, Howard will replace the outgoing Adm. Mark Ferguson, who has led NAVEUR since 2014.

Federal Budget Update

by Greg Lankler – Mercury – from Weekly Military Information published by Debbie Miller with Celestar

30 March 2016
The House and Senate both adjourned for the Easter Recess without making much progress on the budget front. The House continues to struggle to reach agreement on a budget resolution to establish the framework for consideration of appropriations bills. The main sticking point in the House is the total spending level for Fiscal Year 2017. A majority of House Republicans and Democrats want to adhere to the levels agreed to last December as part of the budget deal that set the total at $1.070 trillion dollars. However, Republicans in the Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee have balked at this figure and indicated they will not support a budget resolution or appropriations bills that are brought to the House floor at this level. The Republican leadership continues to try to come up with ways to get out of this bind. Various proposals have been suggested that would enable House floor votes to reduce spending by as much as $30 billion below the budget deal. But the proposals continue to be met with skepticism and have failed to gain any traction.
Despite the lack of a budget resolution, the House Appropriations Committee has begun considering appropriations bills, drafted assuming the $1.070 trillion level. The Committee is pursuing a strategy that at least gets the 12 appropriations bills through the committee while the House Republican Leadership struggles to come up with a strategy that can get the bills approved on House floor without relying on a large number of Democrat votes for passage. Doing so would enrage House conservatives and could spark another revolt against House leadership similar to that Republicans went through last fall when Speaker Boehner retired. The Appropriations Committee approved the first bill, providing funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense military construction projects, last week. The Committee will resume consideration of additional bills as soon as the House reconvenes on April 12th. However, without an agreement on the total spending level, it is unlikely more than a few bills will ever get approved by the House.
In the Senate, the picture is much different. Majority Leader McConnell has made it clear that the deal agreed to last December is the deal, and expects appropriations bills to be written and considered by the Senate at that level – with or without a budget resolution. While this will enable the appropriations bills to move much smoother through that chamber, the risk of the open amendment process in the Senate leaves plenty of opportunity for political mischief to derail the whole process at any point. A fact which is only exacerbated in a presidential election year.
The discouraging reality in all this is that we are likely facing the arrival of a new fiscal year on October 1st without anything more than one or two appropriations bills enacted into law, and the need for a Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until after the elections in November. At which point we will begin the usual “threat of a government shutdown kabuki dance” between the political parties. But to stay positive, we’ve been there and done that, so everybody should pretty much have their moves memorized by now. And with a new Administration beginning next January, everybody will be motivated to clear the decks and come to an agreement – hopefully before Christmas.
A lot can still happen between now and then which could portend a much more productive legislative session. But in Washington, they say a pessimist is just an optimist with experience.

MacDill Free Day – Tampa Bay History Center

April 17, 2016 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of MacDill Air Force Base with free admission to the History Center during MacDill Day, Sunday, April 17. Presented by the Tampa Yankees Foundation, military families and the general public will receive free admission to the History Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Learn about the history of MacDill with WWII-era reenactors, displays of MacDill artifacts and, check out the new MacDill exhibit in the History Center’s War Stories gallery.
Guests will also get free Tampa Yankees give-aways and meet Blue, the Tampa Yankees’ mascot.
For more information, call 813-228-0097.


click here to visit Tampa Bay History Center website

Run for the Roses – Kentucky Derby Watch Party – May 7th @ 4:30

Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby Party is Tamp Bay’s premier social event highlighting the most glorious two minutes in sports.

Come dressed to impress in your best silk, satin and seersucker at the ultramodern Aloft: Tampa.  Hats and heels are encouraged!

Each $35 ticket includes one drink, endless appetizers and a raffle ticket, plus all proceeds will benefit the 2016 Navy Birthday Ball!

Drink specials, delectable appetizers and prizes will also be available.

Odds are, this is an event that you don’t want to miss.

Visit our Facebook page (Run for the Roses Event Tickets) to reserve your position!

2015-2016 Scholarship Application time is running out!

Time is running out to apply for the 2015-2016 Navy League Foundation Scholarships. Annual scholarships are given to high school seniors who will attend college in the fall. Only available to children and grandchildren of former members of the Sea Services and those currently serving as well as members of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, scholarships are awarded for four years and provide an award of $2,500.00 per year.

For more information and applications, click here: