S. 1558 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016
Background: S. 1558 was passed by the Appropriations Committee on June 11 by a vote of 27-3. H.R. 2685, the House version of Defense Appropriations, was also passed on June 11 by a vote of 278-149.
Floor Situation: At 1:45 pm on June 18, 2015, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 2685.
Executive Summary: The bill includes $489.131 billion in non-OCO discretionary budget authority, with all of this except $136 million being security spending. The bill includes $86.869 billion in OCO discretionary budget authority and $514 million in mandatory spending.
Notable Bill Provisions
Provides no funds can be used for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launch service competitions unless such competitions are open to all certified providers of such launches.
Provides no funds can be used to enter into a contract in excess of $1 million unless the contractor agrees not to enter into any agreement with any of its employees requiring, as a condition of employment, that the employee agree to resolve through arbitration a variety of claims, to include any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment. It further provides that the contractor must also agree not to take any action to enforce any similar such provisions in existing contracts. It then requires contractors to certify that it requires any of its subcontractors to take such positions.
Prohibits the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the United States except in accordance with the fiscal year 2016 defense authorization act.
Prohibits the use of funds to construct or modify facilities in the United States for the purpose of housing Guantanamo detainees, except in accordance with the fiscal year 2016 defense authorization act.
Provides no funds may be used to transfer a detainee out of Guantanamo to a third country except in accordance with the fiscal year 2016 defense authorization act. GAO has concluded that President Obama ignored a similar such provision when he transferred five high-value Taliban detainees from the facility last year.
Reduces the total amount appropriated by this bill by $827 million “to reflect savings due to lower than anticipated fuel prices.”
Allows for local military commanders to provide ex gratia payments for damage, injury, or death incident to combat operations in a foreign country.
Expresses the sense of the Senate that sequestration remains an unreasonable and inadequate budgeting tool to address the nation’s deficits and debt, sequestration relief must be accomplished in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the relief should be equal for defense and non-defense categories, and it should be offset through targeted changes in mandatory and discretionary categories and revenues.
Overseas Contingency Operations
Expresses the sense of the Senate that Congress should enact an updated Authorization for Use of Military Force to clarify the U.S. military role against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
OCO Defense-Wide O&M
Provides up to $1.16 billion can be used for payments to reimburse key cooperating nations for support provided to U.S. military and stability operations in Afghanistan and to counter ISIL. It further provides that these funds may be used to provide specialized training, supplies, and equipment to coalition forces.
Iraq Train and Equip Fund
Provides $715 million to provide assistance to military and security forces of or associated with the government of Iraq, including Kurdish and tribal security forces, to counter ISIL.
Syria Train and Equip Fund
Provides $531.5 million to provide assistance to appropriately vetted elements Syrian groups and individuals to promote the conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Syria; defend the Syrian people from ISIL attacks; secure territory controlled by the Syrian opposition; and protect the United States, its friends and allies, and the Syrian people from the threats posed by terrorists in Syria. This is $68.6 million less than the budget request.
Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund
In report language, the committee noted it was reducing the $2.1 billion budget request for the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund by $1.1 billion, which is consistent with the Senate version of the defense authorization bill. This fund is directed at providing support to foreign security forces to facilitate counterterrorism and crisis response activities. The committee expressed concern about the department’s ability to spend the larger amount wisely.
The administration has made it clear that it opposes funding the Department of Defense at the president’s requested level unless Congress provides more non-defense funding.
CBO reports that this bill includes $489.131 billion in non-OCO discretionary budget authority, with all of this except $136 million being security spending. The bill includes $86.869 billion in OCO discretionary budget authority and $514 million in mandatory spending.
The amendment situation is unclear at this time.
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