SASC Optimistic 2015 Defense Authorization Will Pass

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) expressed confidence Thursday that Congress would pass a Fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill when it returns to Washington after the mid-term congressional elections. Levin noted that the lawmakers have approved the crucial defense policy bill annually for 50 years. The House passed its version of the authorization in the spring, but the Senate has not acted on the bill approved by Levin’s committee. Despite that, negotiators from the two chambers have been working on a compromise that could be adopted when Congress reconvenes. The two bills are similar on total funding, but differ on a host of issues. Levin said the Army and Marine Corps will have to continue to make “incremental” reductions in their force structure, because of the budget constraints imposed by sequestration. But, he said, “I’m concerned about the hit readiness has taken. We will have a smaller force, but it must be ready.” Levin repeated his criticism of sequestration. “It was supposed to make us do something reasonable, but that failed,” he said. “We should find a way to repeal it.” Other defense supporters have suggested that might happen in the next congressional session.