The House and Senate passed the compromise FY2012 Defense authorization bill (H.R. 1540).  It now goes to the president who is expected to sign after dropping previous veto threats. 

The White House had earlier issued veto threats over language restricting the transfer and custody of detainees in both House and Senate versions of the bill.  But, after reviewing the compromise language, the White House withdrew its veto threat.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the bill will provide U.S. forces with “the tools that they need to remain the most effective fighting force in the world.  Most important of all, it will send an important message that we, as a nation, stand behind them and deeply appreciate their service.”

The FY2012 Defense Authorization bill authorizes $530 billion for DoD’s base budget (including military construction).  This is $23 billion less than the president’s request ($553 billion).  It also includes $115.5 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO), more than $2 billion less than the request. 

The bill approves the 1.6 percent military pay raise proposed by the president, but does allow a small increase in the TRICARE Prime fee (caps future increases at no more than the retired pay cost-of-living adjustment.) and as well as an increase in pharmacy copay charges.

Following up on Secretary Panetta’s accelerated goal of achieving an auditable Statement of Budgetary Resources by 2014, the bill requires DoD to develop a plan that sets milestones, metrics, and strategies to meet that goal.

The bill also includes language which, for the first time, makes the Chief of the National Guard Bureau (NGB) a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).  Currently, the NGB chief attends JCS meetings and provides advice on national security issues.