Defense Bill Clears Senate

June 19, 2015

On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of the FY16 defense bill, defying a veto threat from the administration. The 71-25 vote means the Senate has enough support to override the veto, should that occur.

The administration threatened to veto the defense bill because it exceeds budget caps put in place by sequestration. The bill attempts to circumvent the budget caps by funding base operations using special war accounts. War accounts are not subject to sequestration.

In a surprising move, lawmakers rejected the Senate Armed Services Committee's recommendation to privatize commissaries. However, many of the committee's original proposals remain in the final bill. 

Although lawmakers submitted over 600 amendments, only a handful made it into the final bill. 

Several significant amendments, which would have prevented further erosion to pay and benefits, never saw the light of day. Left out were amendments that would have granted a full active duty pay raise, blocked a five percent reduction to housing allowances, prevented further cuts to commissary benefits, and prohibited increased TRICARE pharmacy fees. We thank the senators who introduced these amendments. 

The following table shows where we currently are with the House and Senate-passed defense bills:

Defense Bill July 2015

What's Next?

Now that both chambers have passed their respective versions of the defense bill, House and Senate lawmakers will go to conference to iron out differences. Leadership from the Armed Services Committees announced that they hope to complete their work before the August recess.

When conferencing begins, we will need your help. During this process, we'll ask you to contact your legislators in support of the House version of the defense bill.

We sincerely appreciate all of our members who take the time to contact Congress. We need your effort and support to remind Congress not to balance the budget on the backs of the military.