After months of tough negotiation in both the House and the Senate, the two houses’ Armed Service Committees released the text of the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.”
The bill is named for Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and retiring Congressman McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee. On December 2nd, Mr. Levin told the media that the bill should be passed through both the House and the Senate by the end of the week, and that no further amendments to the bill would be allowed.
“At this point, there is no way that we can resolve disputes about which amendments should be debated, debate them, overcome potential filibusters, and still get the job done,” Levin said. “We ask our colleagues to support us in bringing up and passing this bill without amendment as the best of a bad set of options.”
The annual bill, which authorizes the activities of the Defense Department, has hundreds of provisions, including pay and benefits for service members and military retirees, as well as the authority to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels, and funding for military programs.
As it stands, the bill authorizes $521.3 billion in the base discretionary spending for national defense, and $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
Some of the main provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 include: a FY2015 military pay increase at 1%, with a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers; a $3 increase for select pharmacy copayments; and a 1% decrease in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
Other major highlights of the bill include:
- Authorizes $3.4 billion for sustaining U.S. personnel forward-deployed to the Middle East to combat the Islamic State and other threats.
- Provides over $212 billion for operation and maintenance requirements funding activities such as ship refueling and overhaul, depot maintenance, and facilities sustainment.
- Establishes a report on post-2014 Afghanistan.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to report on the viability of reducing combatant command functions by fiscal 2020 and a plan to implement a periodic review of management headquarters.
- Blocks National Guard end strength reductions, as well as the re-distribution of important Guard aviation assets blocked in FY15.
- Prohibits U.S. military cooperation with the Russian military until the secretary of defense certifies the Russian military is no longer illegally occupying Crimea, and is abiding by the terms of the Minsk Protocol regarding the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.
- Includes language that lowers the statutory cap on federal employees at NNSA by more than 7%, to a total of 1,690 positions.
- Authorizes the president’s $1.6 billion request to train and equip Iraqi security forces for a two-year program with robust oversight and notification requirements.
- Authorizes $1.3 billion for a two year program to build partner anti-terrorism capacity in the Middle East and Africa, except for Iraq, which is already funded elsewhere, and to allow U.S. forces to providing enabling support to foreign partners in their counter terrorism activities.
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