Defense IT

House approves $584.2 billion Defense spending plan for 2015

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the $584.2 billion National Defense Authorization Act for 2015. The result of weeks of talks between and House and Senate Armed Services committees, the bill will now be sent to the Senate, which is expected to pass it next week.

The bill, passed in the House by a vote of 300-119, will cover defense spending for fiscal 2015, and while it includes a 1 percent pay increase requested by the Obama administration, it also cuts benefits in several areas. It also includes the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, which gives broader powers to the CIOs of the largest civilian agencies, but does not impact Defense Department or civilian agencies.

It also formalizes plans to eliminate the use of the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine that has been used for the launch of most military satellites. The Air Force wants to move away from the RD-180, which is the primary engine used for United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket, because of deteriorating relations with Russia over the ongoing disputes in Ukraine. This summer, the Air Force Space Command announced a new acquisition strategy for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, with the goal of supporting development of a domestically produced rocket engine.

Named for the outgoing chairmen of the Armed Services committees—Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)—the NDAA establishes a 1 percent pay hike except for general and flag officers, but also includes some benefit reductions, including a 1 percent cut to housing subsidies, a $3 increase in the copay for most drugs prescribed under Tricare and an overall $100 million reduction in subsidies for military commissaries.

The NDAA also includes $6.6 billion for operations against ISIS, including support for training and equipping moderate rebels in Syria.

And while it primarily focuses on Defense spending, it does include some other measures, such as FITARA, which gives large civilian agency CIOs new powers, including greater control over budgeting, contracting, implementing large IT projects and the hiring of component-agency CIOs. It also includes somewhat controversial provision for expanding federal land holdings, such as adding new national parks and designated wilderness areas, that are opposed by some Republicans.

Although the NDAA has bipartisan support and is expected to pass the Senate, some conservative senators, such as Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have threatened to block passage over the land provisions.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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