Last week the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved its version of the FY2014 Defense Authorization bill. The bill authorizes force levels, programs, and policies (including military pay raises) for DoD budgets and programs and policies for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program. Appropriations bills provide actual funding (appropriations).
According to the committee press release, the SASC bill authorizes $625.1 billion, including $526.6 billion for the DoD base budget, $17.8 billion for DOE and $80.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in FY2014.
The SASC bill approves the president’s request for a 1 percent military pay raise. The House-passed bill proposes a 1.8 percent military raise. The bill rejects DoD’s proposed increases to healthcare fees, deductibles, and co-pays, as does the House bill.
The SASC continues the drumbeat of congressional rejection of DoD’s proposal for a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2015. The House-passed bill also rejects a new BRAC round, as does the House-passed FY2014 Military Construction/VA appropriations bill.
In a move to mitigate the adverse effects on readiness resulting from sequestration, the SASC bill adds $1.8 billion to “address readiness problems caused by fiscal year 2013 sequestration.” The SASC bill would also establish a DoD Readiness Restoration Fund “to provide increased flexibility to transfer available funds to meet high priority readiness needs.”
The SASC requires DoD to develop a plan to streamline management headquarters operations across the department with a goal of saving $100 billion over 10 years.
The bill increases the cost cap on the new Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier (CVN-78) from $11.8 billion to $12.9 billion and excludes shipboard testing cost increases from the cap.
The bill cuts Military Construction by $1.3 billion. Incrementally-funded projects are reduced by $640 million, funding for new construction projects in Europe is cut by $447 million, and construction spending in Guam is reduced by $238 million.
The bill sets a $487,000 limit (from the current $763,000) on allowable reimbursement for contractor executive salary. The House bill rejects setting a limit and proposed to exclude the salaries of some contractors’ top five earners from allowable expenses and freeze the baseline for current employee compensation.
Regarding sexual assault in the military, the SAC bill would amend Article 60 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to limit the authority to modify findings of a court-martial to specific sexual offenses, require automatic review of a commander’s decision to not prosecute a sexual assault allegation, and make retaliation against servicemembers for reporting criminal offenses a punishable offense.
The full Senate could consider the bill before the August recess.