Quick Hit – August 1, 2015

The Grinding Gears of CongressThe House and Senate continue to tout their individual successes, passing legislation that either won’t or can’t survive the environment of the other chamber:

The NDAA (defense authorization) bill is stalled in conference over several key provisions:
– Closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility
– TriCare co-pays
– Downward adjustment of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
– Use of 38B in Overseas Contingency Operations funding
President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA over several of the provisions above. As of today, Congressional Republicans are inclined to force the issue, confident that they can override a veto. This bill had been on a fast track to completion, now won’t complete conference until after Labor Day.
No appropriations bills have made it to the Senate floor, yet for the first time in six years, all were voted out of the full appropriations committee. Senate Democrats want the non-defense portions of government to get the same relief from BCA spending caps that are being written into the defense budget.
The House had made good progress moving nearly half of the appropriations bills to the floor before the process came to a halt over legislation relating to the Confederate flag.
The Senate passed a Highway bill to fund transportation infrastructure for six years. It included a provision to fund the Export-Import Bank whose funding expired June 30th. The House was only able to pass a three-month extension of the current Highway bill extension, and it contains no provision to fund the Export-Import Bank.
General Joseph Dunford, USMC, has been confirmed as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What’s Next?

General Paul Selva, USAF, will be confirmed as the next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Mark Milley, USA, will be confirmed as the next Chief of Staff of the Army.
The House has begun its August district work period; the Senate will go out this week. Town hall meetings have a way of encouraging lawmakers to get back to work. Congress must find its way to a budget deal.
With only 10 legislative days scheduled between Labor Day and the end of the fiscal year, when Congress returns 8 September, the first order of business will be a Continuing Resolution to continue to fund the government and avert a shutdown. Expect a CR to run into November.

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