Friday, after successfully stripping the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act of all controversy, the House sent their shiny new and simplified (over 900 pages worth of simple) version of the bill to the Senate.
Gone, but not lost, from the measure is a provision to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” the same provision that prevented the House’s original bill from moving forward earlier this year. Also missing is a Senate Armed Services provision that would have allowed privately funded abortions in military hospitals.
The bill’s effect is limited, since programs are funded by individual appropriations bills, but it still packs a considerable punch.
The $725 billion measure would authorize a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops starting next month, extend Tricare coverage for military dependents to age 26, create a counter-IED database to assist with troop-protection efforts, and direct the development of better lightweight body armor for ground forces, among other provisions.
The bill fails to provide guidance either way on the F-35 extra engine, neither preventing nor providing for the program. It would, however, require the troubled F-35 program to adhere to a new set of management guidelines under which decisions to commit to specific levels of production would be linked to the program’s progress in meeting specific milestones.
Now we wait for the Senate, which was expected to follow suit immediately, but remains bogged down in the details. If the Senate amends the bill it will be sent back to the House, and days are limited.