Yesterday, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved (56Y-5N) the FY2014 Defense Authorization Bill. The HASC bill authorizes $552 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DoE) funding for the nuclear weapons program.  The bill also authorizes $85.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in FY2014.

HASC chairman Rep Buck McKeon (R-CA) emphasized that the FY2014 Defense Authorization bill would be the 52nd consecutive Defense Authorization bill passed by the Congress.

According to a committee summary, the HASC bill provides military personnel with a 1.8 percent pay raise, almost twice the 1 percent raise requested in the president’s budget. The bill rejects DoD’s proposed increases to TRICARE Prime enrollment fees, pharmacy co-pays, and an enrollment fee for TRICARE for Life and TRICARE Standard. In the FY2013 Defense Authorization bill, Congress approved a small increase in the TRICARE pharmacy co-pay, but rejected most of DoD’s proposals to reduce TRICARE costs by increasing fees.

The bill reflects strong opposition in the Congress to another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round. It would prohibit DoD from planning or initiating another BRAC round in 2015. In the FY2013 budget, DoD proposed a BRAC round for 2014, but backed away from that proposal in the face of strong congressional objections. At that time then DoD Secretary Leon Panetta said DoD was not abandoning the push for closing unneeded installations and would probably revive a BRAC request in the future.

The bill also rejects the Navy’s plan to retire seven cruisers and two amphibious ships, providing modernization funding to keep them in the fleet, and prevents the retirement of Global Hawk block 30 unmanned aircraft.

The committee does support much of the administration’s budget request for major weapons programs.  The bill supports requested funding for the nuclear aircraft carrier (CVN-78) and multiyear procurement of the E-2D Hawkeye and C-130J Super Hercules. The bill also supports funding for the KC-46 Tanker, the Long Range Bomber (LRS-B) and modernization of the C-130H aircraft for the Guard and Reserves.

The bill includes additional funding for National Guard and Reserve equipment, advance procurement for the F/A-18E/F and Amphibious Combat Vehicle, and the MQ-9 Reaper. The bill would also address what it considers unfunded Air Force requirements for F-15E and F-16 Engines.

The HASC bill would reject a cap on individual salaries when calculating allowable private sector compensation on DoD contracts. Instead, it would exclude the salaries of some contractors’ top five earners from allowable expenses and freeze the baseline for current employee compensation. Future adjustments in the baseline would be made using the economic cost index.

The full House is expected to begin consideration of the bill next week.