Yesterday, the House passed its version of the FY2014 Defense Authorization bill, 315-108. The House bill authorizes $552.1 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.
Final passage came after the House approved an amendment prohibiting the use of funds to release or transfer Yemen detainees from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The full House rejected an amendment calling for closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by the end of 2014.
The House bill contains very strong provisions relating to sexual assault in the military including: requiring mandatory two-year sentences for servicemembers convicted by a military court of rape or sexual assault and removing from commanders the power to overturn such convictions. Servicemembers who commit rape or sexual assault would be dismissed or dishonorably discharged, under the bill.
The House 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.
The bill rejects administration proposals to achieve savings to meet constrained funding levels or reapply to other higher priority programs. The House bill prohibits DoD from planning or initiating another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2015, rejects the Navy’s plan to retire seven cruisers and two amphibious ships, and prevents the retirement of Global Hawk block 30 unmanned aircraft.
The House rejects 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 bill drew an immediate veto threat from the White House. A Statement of Administration (SAP) on the bill issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) identified “serious concerns” about a number of provisions in the bill including the management of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. However, no specific concern drew a veto threat. Rather, the veto threat is framed in a very general way: “If the bill is presented to the President in its current form, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that the President veto the bill.”