John M. Donnelly

Kaine, Other Senators Take Sides in Clash Over Nuclear Arms
Clinton's running mate not quite in sync with Democratic platform

Competing groups of senators are laying out arguments in what's likely to be the biggest defense budget issue facing the next administration and Congress: how much to spend on nuclear arms?  

The pro-nuclear camp includes Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine , whom presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton picked as her running mate.  

Past Appropriations to Loom Large in Future Defense Measure
Senate appropriators seek twice as much in cuts as House counterparts

Whenever lawmakers negotiate a final Defense spending bill for the coming fiscal year, one of the primary bones of contention will be money enacted in prior fiscal years.

Senate appropriators, in their fiscal 2017 measure (S 3000), would cut more than $4 billion in what they deem as excess funds leftover from prior spending laws, roughly twice the amount found by their House counterparts in their measure (HR 5293). Some of the programs that stand to lose already appropriated money are major weapons initiatives for rockets, ships and warplanes. And the gap between the Senate and House approaches on some individual programs runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hill to Military: Move Aircraft to Protect Nuclear Missiles

In a bid to immediately bolster security at U.S. nuclear missile silos, senior lawmakers in both chambers are stepping up pressure on the Pentagon to divert military aircraft there from other locations.  

The members are concerned that aging UH-1N Huey helicopters at the missile sites would not be able to respond to a terrorist attack there. The Pentagon, they say, needs to address the vulnerability now, while it waits several years to buy new aircraft to replace the Hueys.  

How Senators Quietly Voted to Keep Bomber Costs Secret
Critics say public may never know how much is spent on B-21 program

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted behind closed doors last month to bar public disclosure of the cost of a major new contract to build America’s latest stealth bomber.   

At issue before the committee was how much the American people — and potential adversaries — should know about the price of one of the most expensive and important new programs in the U.S. arsenal.  

Rodents and Rot: Defense Facilities 'Failing'
Senate finds a quarter of U.S. military facilities are falling apart

A quarter of the U.S. military’s facilities are falling apart, the Senate Appropriations Committee says.  

“According to recent facility condition assessment data, one in four Defense facilities are rated as being in poor or failing condition,” the committee wrote in a report  accompanying the fiscal 2017 Milcon-VA spending bill that the panel approved Thursday.  

Congress Weighs Reversing Cut to Defense Workers' Travel Benefits
Both chambers are considering changes to reimbursement rates

Lawmakers in both chambers could be poised to exempt Navy shipyard workers — and maybe all Defense Department workers — from a recent cut to their travel benefits.  

The two-year old reduction in reimbursement rates for long-term travel is taking money out of the pockets of Defense employees and even hurting military readiness, say congressional critics, who have the backing of a coalition of unions and hotels.  

Exclusive: Aging Helicopters Could Make U.S. Nukes Vulnerable to Terrorists

If terrorists attacked one or more of America’s nuclear missiles in the northern Great Plains, U.S. military personnel would not be able to respond effectively, because their Vietnam-era helicopters are not up to the task, according to lawmakers, U.S. military leaders and Defense Department documents.

On Defense, Obama Punts to His Successor

President Barack Obama sent Congress on Tuesday a defense budget request that reflects his lame-duck status.

Gitmo Closure Cost Emerges as Sticking Point

Several of President Barack Obama’s leading GOP critics on Wednesday seized on reports that Pentagon officials believe replacing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with one in the United States could cost more than half a billion dollars.

Pentagon Quietly Paid Teams in All Major Sports to Honor Military

The Defense Department paid millions of dollars in the last several years to the wealthy owners of teams in every major sport for demonstrations of support for the military, a new Senate report says.

Official Claims 'No Elevated Risk' To F-35 Pilots, Despite Evidence to Contrary

Pilots now flying the F-35 fighter jet are not at any unusual risk due to an unsafe ejection seat, the program’s director told a House panel Wednesday, even though an internal Pentagon document he signed appears to contradict that statement.

Official Confirms 'Serious' Risk to Wide Swath of F-35 Pilots

Most F-35 pilots who have to eject during take-off or landing while wearing the latest helmet face a “serious” danger of major injury or death, a senior Air Force official said in a written response to a CQ query.

Ejection Injuries Generally Not Caused by Seats

As long as you are only flying at about half the speed of sound, an ejection from a U.S. military fighter jet probably won’t kill you—or even hurt much.

EXCLUSIVE: F-35 Ejection Seats Could Endanger Many Pilots

Nearly 1 in 3 pilots who will fly the F-35, the military's $159 million fighter jet of the future, runs a heightened risk of fatal whiplash during an emergency ejection, according to defense officials and internal documents obtained by CQ.

Pentagon Warning on Consolidating Corporate Power May be Too Late

A Pentagon warning last week about excessive consolidation in the defense industry comes ahead of a multibillion-dollar contract award for a new bomber that, depending on who wins, could make the problem worse, some analysts say.

Bomber Must Fly Through Enemy Airspace on Capitol Hill

No matter which company wins the new B-3 bomber deal, the program’s advocates will start facing the first of many budget battles before any metal has been bent.

Wide Political Fallout Expected From Massive Nuclear Bomber Deal

In a few weeks, the Pentagon will announce the companies picked to develop America’s next bomber jet, sparking a budget war that will last for years and reshape the defense industry, experts say.

Exclusive: U.S. Spends Scores of Millions Annually on Unused Afghan Buildings

The U.S. government is spending $110 million a year operating several hundred unused buildings for Afghanistan’s government, CQ has learned.

Experts Set Off Alarms Over McCain's Defense Acquisition Overhaul

Senate-passed legislation intended to improve the Pentagon’s troubled acquisition system may end up having the opposite effect, according to a growing number of experts.