Senate committee approves FY2011 Defense Authorization Bill

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Senate committee approves FY2011 Defense Authorization Bill

Late last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved its version of the FY2011 Defense Authorization Bill.  According to a committee summary, the SASC bill provides $567 billion for DoD and the defense programs of the Department of Energy.  The Committee also authorizes funding for contingency operations in FY2010 and FY2011.  The SASC bill provides a 1.4 percent military pay raise requested by the President and did not fund the F-35 alternative engine program.  This puts the Senate at odds with the House who approved a 1.9 percent military pay raise and added funds for the alternative engine program.  Secretary Gates has said that he would recommend that the president veto the bill if it included funding for the alternative engine program, but last week backed off his earlier opposition to the higher military pay raise.  In other action, the SASC voted to increase contractor oversight.  The bill requires a review of contractors’ business systems to make sure they protect the government’s interests and expands DoD’s authority to take action against contractors found to “jeopardize the health and safety of government personnel.”  The SASC also included a provision that requires the president to send 6,000 to the Mexican border to assist efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S.  And, the committee repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on gays serving in the military by including language similar to that in the House-passed bill (see above).  The full Senate may take up the bill in the next few weeks.

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