The House approved a $585 billion Fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill on Thursday with a largely bipartisan vote of 330-119. Outgoing House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) used the vote to bid his farewell to the Congress he has served since 1992 and to thank US troops for their many sacrifices. McKeon will retire at the end of this session. “I hope sometime next year a compromise can come to this floor that will end sequestration. There isn’t some magical solution that Republicans can support and the President can sign without sacrifice on both sides,” said McKeon. “When the solution comes, it will be a tough vote on both sides. For some of my colleagues, it might be a fatal vote. I pray that you will hold this thought in your hearts when that vote comes: Remember the great sacrifice our troops are making around the world.” He said US troops have risked their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are “at sea within missile range of Iran,” and “flying wingtip-to-wingtip against Russia bombers.” Service members are “nose-to-nose with the North Koreans” and “fighting a horrible disease” in Africa. Yet, he said, Congress has repaid them with “equipment that is falling apart. By laying them off while they’re off in war zones. By docking their pay and their medical benefits. By throwing them out of the service and onto a broken economy … So shame on us if we’re unwilling to pay back the debt we owe them.”
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.