Washington Weekly – May 9, 2014

May 9, 2014

The House passed a resolution establishing a select committee of seven Republicans and five Democrats to investigate the September 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi. They also passed a bill changing federal regulations of charter schools (HR 10), a bill making permanent a research and development tax credit (HR 4438), and the Electrify Africa Act, which requires the President to establish a comprehensive, multiyear strategy for the US to help sub-Saharan African nations to improve access to electricity in Africa. The House also passed a measure, mostly along party lines, holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. The matter now goes to the Justice Department. The Senate voted on cloture on the motion to proceed on S 2262, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (also referred to as the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill), but Senate leaders were not able to strike a deal to move forward on the bipartisan bill. The Senate did pass a bill clarifying DC rules regarding occupancy of penthouses above the top story of a building in addition to a number of judicial nominations.

FY2015 Appropriations

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) laid out his plan on Tuesday for dividing the $1.014 trillion in discretionary budget authority for FY15 among the 12 appropriations subcommittees. The full committee voted on the allocations on Thursday and approved them in a partisan 25-20 vote.Senate allocations were also expected to be released this week, but they were delayed due to an accounting disagreement between OMB and CBO over the calculation for the government’s earnings from mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration leaving a $4.3 billion difference. House appropriators made up for this $4.3B difference with cuts to some Transportation-HUD appropriations accounts. The Senate is expected to finalize their 302(b) allocations before their anticipated first subcommittee markup on May 22. Both House and Senate appropriations committees are expected to adhere to the $1.014 trillion in discretionary funding set aside for FY15 under the December budget deal. The deal capped discretionary spending at $521.3 billion for defense programs and $492.4 billion for non-defense programs.

The 302(b) allocations for the House are as follows:

*in millions

Subcommittee FY13 (with sequestration) FY14 Omnibus FY15 House
Agriculture $19,560 $20,880 $20,880
Commerce-Justice-Science 47,020 51,600 51,202
Defense 486,297 486,851 490,960
Overseas Contingency

Operations (OCO)

82,190 85,191 79,445
Energy & Water 34,263 34,060 34,010
Financial Services 19,874 21,851 21,276
Homeland Security 37,759 39,270 39,220
Interior-Environment 28,240 30,058 30,220
Labor-HHS-Education 149,640 156,773 155,693
Legislative Branch 4,061 4,258 4,258
Military Construction-VA 70,909 73,299 71,499
State-Foreign Operations 40,358 42,481 42,381
OCO 10,843 6,520 5,912
Transportation-HUD 48,441 50,856 52,029

In addition to agreeing to the proposed 302(b) allocations, the House Appropriations Committee also marked up their $51.2 billion FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill in full committee on Thursday. This is a $398 million decrease from FY14. The Department of Justice (DOJ) receives $27.8 billion (a $383 million increase over FY14) in bill with increased spending levels for DOJ law enforcement agencies including the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and ATF. The bill also provides $8.4 billion for the Commerce Department, a $171 million increase over FY14 with the Census Bureau receiving an additional $1.1 billion to prepare for the next census. NASA and NSF also received increases of $237 million over FY14 with funding set at $17.9 billion for NASA and $7.4 billion for NSF. The bill was approved by a voice vote after the committee accepted an amendment to withhold funding for efforts to make gun dealers inform DOJ when they sell multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person within five days.

The House also began marking up their FY15 Transportation-HUD spending measure in subcommittee this week. The bill provides $52 billion in discretionary funding for infrastructure and housing programs, a $1.2 billion increase over FY14 but $7.8 billion less than the President’s FY15 request. However, given the accounting disagreement between OMB and CBO over the calculation of Federal Housing Administration receipts, the program level within the bill is more accurately $1.8 billion below the current level. HUD funding was cut by $769 million from FY14 funding levels and $2 billion less than the President’s request. TIGER grants were also cut by $500 million from FY14 levels ($1.15 billion less than requested by the President), and projects such as streetscaping, or bike and pedestrian paths are no longer eligible for this funding. The FAA received a slight decrease of $7.3 million and was funded at $15.7 billion. The bill also fully funds the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen) at $852.4 million, and funds Contract Towers at $140 million. The Federal Railroad Administration’s safety programs were increased to $220.5 million. The Maritime Administration saw a decrease of $72 million from FY14 with funding at $305 million. The bill was approved by voice vote and will be marked up in full committee the week of May 19 when the House returns from their mid-May recess.

The House is expected to take up the Homeland Security spending bill after the mid-May recess.

The Senate Appropriations Committee continues with hearings next week on FY15 funding for defense research and innovation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Appropriations Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies    
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 30

Full Committee: May 8

Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies    
Financial Services and General Government    
Homeland Security Subcommittee: Week of May 19  
Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: May 1

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: April 3

Full Committee: April 9

Floor: April 30

Full Committee: May 22?
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs    
Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: Week of May 19


NSA Surveillance Reform

Two House Committees (Judiciary and Intelligence) were initially moving ahead this week with competing proposals to reform the government’s surveillance programs. The contest between the two committees began earlier this year when HR 4291, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act, was introduced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and referred to their committee by the House parliamentarian. Some House Judiciary Committee members raised concerns that matters involving the legal authority of the intelligence community fall under their committee’s jurisdiction.

The House Judiciary Committee decided to move forward this week with their bill, the USA Freedom Act (HR 3361). The bipartisan bill was approved in committee 32 to 0 and would prohibit the bulk collection of telephone metadata under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act under the FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace law (Section 402 of FISA), and under National Security Letter statutes. The bill also creates a new process for obtaining call records; requires the government to adopt procedures to minimize the retention and prohibit the dissemination of nonpublic information about Americans; provides for judicial review of minimization procedures; creates a panel of legal experts to help ensure the FISA court adequately considers privacy concerns; requires the Attorney General to conduct a declassification review of each decision, order, or opinion of the FISA court that includes a significant construction or interpretation of the law; requires the government to disclose the number of requests made for call detail records under the new collection program; requires the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to publicly report annually the number of FISA orders issued, modified, or denied by the FISC; and allows companies to semi-annually publicly report requests for information they receive under FISA and National Security Letter authorities.

The House Intelligence Committee had intended to mark up their FISA Transparency and Modernization Act in a closed session this week, but after negotiations with House leadership and the Judiciary Committee they elected to not hold a vote on their bill and instead considered and passed by voice vote the Freedom Act. The bill now heads to the House floor and is expected to be cleared before Memorial Day. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has sponsored a companion version of the Freedom Act in his chamber, but timing for consideration in the Senate is only stated as “this summer.”

FY15 National Defense Authorization Act

The House Armed Services Committee met in full committee this week to mark up their FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (HR 4435). The committee unanimously approved the bill and it now goes to the House floor for consideration the week of May 19.

The HASC bill authorizes $521.3 billion in spending for national defense, and an additional $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). This is consistent with the President’s budget request and the bi-partisan budget agreement reached last December, however, it is $45 billion less than the President requested in FY14 and $30.7 billion less than Congress enacted in FY14.


The Committee rejected the President’s proposed BRAC round maintaining that “BRAC rounds do not yield true savings but rather impose large up front costs only then to shift property between federal agencies.” The committee also rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Smith during the full committee markup that would have allowed the Pentagon close excess military facilities but with the requirement that savings would have to be realized within five years. The bill instead requires DoD to report on several BRAC related topics, including a report on excess capacity, a report on the property disposal process, and an assessment of each prior BRAC round – listing by acre property disposals and acreage left to dispose of, an assessment of land sale revenues, the cost of environmental cleanup and caretaker services, and how much remediation is left to do.

Military Compensation and Benefits

In his FY15 budget request, the President proposed cuts to TRICARE, Housing Allowances, and Commissary benefits. The FY13 NDAA established a military compensation commission to examine a range of reforms and report back to Congress. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) stated that military compensation reform should be addressed comprehensively, and that the committee is not willing to make reforms until the commission provides its recommendations. However, the bill does require DoD to consult with outside experts in retail grocery sales to find efficiencies in the commissary system.

Troop Pay

The chairman’s mark supports current law, which mandates an automatic 1.8% increase in troop pay, but also calls for a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers for FY15.

Sexual Assault in the Military

The bill eliminates the “good soldier defense” – a consideration of general military character toward the probability of innocence in sexual assault prosecutions. The proposal also calls for a review of the terms of discharge for those who are victims of sexual offenses, to ensure that they have not been persecuted for reporting crimes. Victims would also be consulted as to their preference for prosecuting offenders by court-martial or through civilian channels.

Military Suicide

The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to track the issue closely and authorizes a total of $45.3 million dollars towards behavioral and psychological health programs and efforts specifically for Special Operations Forces. Funding for the USSOCOM Behavioral Health and Warrior Care Management Program is increased from $14.8 million to $38.1 million to immediately increase the number of embedded behavioral health care providers including psychologists, social workers, nurse case managers, and operational psychologists. And the USSOCOM Psychological Performance Program was fully funded at the $7.2 million dollar requested level.

Military Readiness

Readiness programs were increased by $1 billion to address critical readiness gaps associated with depot maintenance, flying hour programs and base operations support caused by sequestration and repeated resource cuts.


The Chairman’s proposal expresses Congress’ support for Operation Resolute Support and for the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). The bill also expresses the committee’s view that the counternarcotics mission be included in the core enduring mission set. The Chairman’s Mark proposes establishing the “1230 Report” on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan for the post-2014 environment, extends the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) in Afghanistan, requires a plan for monitoring DoD funded construction activities in Afghanistan post-2014, and requires a report on the financial management capacity of the Afghan ministries of Defense and Interior. The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to submit an ANSF sustainment plan through the end of FY18. And finally, the proposal directs DoD to withhold DoD assistance to Afghanistan in an amount equal to 150% of the illegal taxes assessed by Afghanistan on those foreign activities promoting Afghan progress, security, and stability.

Overseas Contingency Operations Funding

Chairman McKeon is concerned that many enduring requirements beyond the Afghanistan mission are being funded through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account and called for a report on enduring requirements currently funded through OCO. The bill does not contain any specifics on war funding as Congress is still waiting for the administration’s FY15 OCO request. However, the panel rejected a $115 million request for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization as an “unjustified request,” but moved about $65 million of those funds to the OCO account.

Institutional Reform

The Chairman’s proposal restores the Office of Net Assessment (ONA) to its independent status, with the Office reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, and increases the ONA budget for FY15 by $10 million to $18.9 million. The bill also directs the Secretary of Defense to report on combining combatant command back office functions to achieve greater efficiencies and cost savings. The Mark would also task GAO to assess DoD’s headquarter reduction efforts, building off its previous work conducted for the committee on examining growth in DoD headquarters.

Acquisition Reform

The FY08 NDAA established the requirement for an annual inventory of services contracts, but the Department has yet to fully implement this requirement. The Chairman’s Mark encourages the Secretary to improve data collection for services contracting and conduct better analysis of the data to identify waste. GAO is tasked to report on opportunities to improve services contract processes. And the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) is directed to consider the potential for increase in program cost estimates or delays in schedule estimates in the implementation of policies, procedures, and activities related to operational test and evaluation.

Security Reform

To prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified information, the Chairman’s Mark directs the Secretary of Defense to provide the committee with frequent reports on its damage assessment resulting from these unauthorized disclosures and steps the Department is taking to mitigate the damage.

Strategy Reform

The bill requires DOD to resubmit the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) with specifying the resources required to execute the strategy at a low-to-moderate level of risk. The bill restricts 25% of OSD Policy funding until the revised QDR is submitted. Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith also offered a bipartisan amendment during the markup that overhauls the QDR. The new QDR will require tradeoff analyses between missions, risks, and resources; reshape the role of the independent National Defense Panel; and require a separate Quadrennial Threats and Trends Report.

National Guard

The introduced bill did not get involved in the feud over shifting the National Guard’s Apache helicopters to the active-duty Army. However, during the full committee markup, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) offered an amendment that would freeze cuts to the Army Guard for one year while GAO studies the Army force structure (due March 2015), holds end strength for the Active Army at 490,000 and Army Guard at 350,000, and bars the Army from transferring the Guard’s Apache attack helicopters to the active service. The amendment passed by voice vote.

Asia Rebalance

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) offered several amendments during full committee markup dealing with the pivot to the Pacific, including one reaffirming the U.S. commitment to its allies in the region.

Guantanamo Bay

The bill maintains prohibitions on the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility to the United States and on the construction of terrorist detention facilities in the United States.

Oversight of Sensitive Military Operations Act (OSMOA)

The Chairman’s Mark withholds 25% of the funds for the Assistant Secretary for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict until the outstanding reporting elements of the OSMOA are received.


The bill urges the President to shift to an enduring posture in the Middle East and seek status of forces agreements with Gulf Cooperation Council states. The Chairman’s Mark supports the President’s decision to deliver ten Apache helicopters to Egypt for counterterrorism operations. The proposal reflects congressional concern regarding the influx of foreign fighters in Syria and the committee’s belief that “prudent planning” to support regional allies impacted by the Syria conflict is warranted. Finally, an American presence in the Arabian Gulf is necessary to deter Iran; and any negotiations with Iran must address the military aspects of their nuclear program. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) offered an amendment during full committee markup that calls for additional restrictions on a potential nuclear deal with Iran, including that Iran cease its support of terror groups and its ballistic missile program. It was agreed to by voice vote.


The bill requires a report on the “new normal” and general mission requirements for AFRICOM, as well as a report on the readiness implications of the Army’s Regionally Aligned Brigade concept in Africa.

Europe and Russia

The bill prohibits U.S. military contact and cooperation with the Russian military until the Secretary of Defense certifies the Russian military is no longer illegally occupying Crimea, no longer acting inconsistently with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Force (INF) treaty, and is in compliance with the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is barred from transferring technology with Russia until the Secretary of Energy makes the same certifications. The Chairman’s proposal also condemns Russian aggression towards Ukraine and reaffirms the United States commitment to Article V of NATO. The Chairman requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to provide assistance to the European and Eurasian militaries to enhance their defensive capabilities and posture. The Chairman’s Mark increases the budget for the DOD’s Warsaw Initiative Fund/Partnership for Peace (WIF/PfP) program from $24.4 million to $34.4 million to enable U.S. European Command, through military exercises and defense reform efforts, to build the capacity of PfP militaries in order to promote regional stability and to deter Russian aggression. It also cuts all funding for the DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction program and NNSA’s non-proliferation activities with Russia.

Proximity Encroachment

Requires DoD to study gaps and vulnerabilities in the interagency process for public property estate transactions near critical military assets, installations, and training facilities to ensure that foreign-controlled entities are not acquiring these properties with the intent to monitor activities. GAO is tasked to provide a sufficiency review of the DoD study.

Markup Changes

  • Doubled the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system adding $175 million.
  • Authorizes funding for five Growler electronic warfare jets
  • $1 billion for maintenance and training accounts.
  • Restores the Office of Net Assessment to its independent status.
  • Blocks the Air Force from preparing to retire its U-2 spy planes.
  • Provides $120 million in funding for eight MQ-9 Reapers.
  • Added back $635 million to keep the A-10 Warthog fleet flying through FY15.
  • Blocks all funding for LCS mission modules until senior Pentagon and Navy officials deliver some assurances to lawmakers.
  • Limits the Pentagon’s ability to retire more than four E-3 airborne warning and control system aircraft.

Finally, as this is the Chairman’s final NDAA, the panel voted to name the bill after him. Rep. Thornberry (R-TX) and Rep. Smith (D-WA) offered it as the final amendment of the night. The amendment was approved, and the committee gave the retiring chairman a standing ovation.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) FY15 NDAA markup schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Subcommittee on Airland. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

11:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Seapower. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

2:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

3:30 p.m. —Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

5:00 p.m. —Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10:00 a.m. —Subcommittee on Personnel. OPEN. Room SD-G50.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2:30 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

9:30 a.m. — 9:00 p.m. [with a break for lunch] Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

If markup is not completed on Thursday, May 22, then:

Friday, May 23, 2014

9:30 a.m. — Completion Full Committee. CLOSED. Room SR-222.

Political Updates

Bob Work was sworn in as the 32nd Deputy Secretary of Defense on Monday.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directorate in the Department of Homeland Security named Kevin Kern as its next chief information officer (CIO). Kern replaces Thomas Michelli who moved to be the deputy CIO at the Coast Guard and is expected to replace Adm. Robert Day, the Coast Guard’s CIO when he retires this summer. Kern served as a senior vice president and CIO at Unisys and has more than 30 years of experience in global operations and technology in various industries including high technology, healthcare, financial services and manufacturing. Kern will manage ICE’s $600 million IT budget and manage its IT infrastructure and operations, which includes eight major projects. The agency’s biggest program by cost at $189 million is its IT infrastructure that covers 14 different projects, including desktop services, local area network upgrades and more. One of Kern’s main priorities will be getting its TECS modernization back on track. ICE also is expected to name a deputy CIO in the coming weeks.

Next Week

The House is in recess next week. The Senate is in session next week and will continue debate on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. Next on their agenda is tax extenders legislation.

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