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Stories by Connor O'Brien:

Gitmo Closure Cost Emerges as Sticking Point

Dec. 4, 2015

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.

Ryan Wants a Bigger Navy, 'Big Time'

Nov. 4, 2015

The moment House Republican defense hawks have been waiting for is finally here: the new House Speaker is one of them. And he wants a bigger Navy.

Senate Clears NDAA with Veto-Proof Majority

Oct. 7, 2015

Annual defense policy legislation was cleared by the Senate Wednesday and is headed to the White House by a veto-proof majority, though Democratic leaders have vowed to sustain the president's objection.

Reid Vows to Uphold Veto as Senate Cuts Off NDAA Debate

Oct. 6, 2015

Annual defense policy legislation could be headed to the White House as soon as Wednesday after the Senate voted to cut off debate on the measure, even as the chamber's top Democrat pledged his caucus would vote to sustain a promised presidential veto.

House Leaning Toward VA 'Choice' Vote, but With Strings

July 24, 2015

Lawmakers appear ready to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs has access to the money it needs to prevent a shutdown of its hospitals this August, but there will probably be strings attached.

House Scraps NDAA Conference Vote Amid 'Blue Slip' Hang Up

June 24, 2015

The House and Senate conference on their annual defense policy bill isn't happening. At least not today.

Armed Services Chairmen Aiming for Conference on NDAA Next Month

June 23, 2015

The Senate just passed its fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, but Armed Services Chairman John McCain and his House counterpart, Mac Thornberry, are already saying a compromise can be reached on final legislation within weeks.

Senators Nix $250K in National Guard Paintings

May 31, 2015

Lawmakers have nixed a series of historical paintings to be commissioned by the National Guard, totaling a quarter million dollars, as part of annual authorizing legislation and amid the Pentagon's argument that the president's proposed defense budget represents the bare minimum that can be spent on national defense in the coming year.

Congress Flatlines VA Construction Budget

May 19, 2015

Congressional consternation with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ handling of large construction projects has been stewing for some time, and 2015 appears to be the year lawmakers intend to put their feet down.

Deadline Puts Focus on Denver VA Hospital Project

May 19, 2015

As if Congress doesn’t have enough to do before its Memorial Day recess, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has warned lawmakers that unless they authorize more money by next week for building the new veterans hospital in Denver, the project will probably come to a halt.

House Rules Tees Up 135 Defense Authorization Amendments

May 14, 2015

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday night allowed for 135 amendments to be offered to the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, including a proposal backed by conservative Republicans that would strip immigration language, and could be crucial to winning floor passage as the typically bipartisan legislation loses some high profile Democratic support.

Back in BRAC: Advocates Say It's Been Too Long

April 28, 2015

Rep. Adam Smith, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, was trying again this week to persuade his colleagues that they should allow a round of military base closings and realignments in the interest of saving money.

Deal Reached to Soften Iran Bill's Terrorism Language

April 14, 2015

Leading lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appear to have reached a compromise to dilute some provisions of major Iran legislation ahead of this afternoon's markup.

The announcement came on the heels of a direct appeal to senators from Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, who visited Capitol Hill this morning to chip away at the legislation’s chances of securing a veto-proof majority.

Among the anticipated changes to the bill would be removing controversial language that tying Iran’s continued support of terrorism to receiving relief from congressional sanctions as part of a final international nuclear agreement. That certification requirement drew particular ire from Democratic lawmakers and the White House.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who leads the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters his sense is "we're moving toward a strong support in committee, but again in this business you never count your chickens before they hatch."

GOP Senators Seek to Put Focus Back on VA Scandal

Jan. 29, 2015

A group of Republican senators hopes to return attention to accountability issues at the Veterans’ Affairs Department that have disappeared from the headlines.

Schiff Named Top Democrat on Intelligence Panel

Jan. 8, 2015

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that California Democrat Adam B. Schiff will be the next ranking member on the Intelligence Committee.

VA Settles With Three Phoenix Whistle-Blowers

Sept. 29, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs has reached settlements with three individuals who worked at the agency's medical center in Phoenix and complained that they were subjected to retaliation for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.

Lawmakers Disagree on Discretionary Defense Cap

Sept. 16, 2014

As is typical in the defense authorization process, House and Senate lawmakers made differing choices over key policy and military hardware issues. Both bills, however, would adhere to the $514 billion discretionary cap for fiscal 2015 Pentagon base spending established by the Ryan-Murray budget.

Defense Authorization Again Headed Toward Last-Minute Dealmaking

Sept. 16, 2014

It was probably wishful thinking on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s part when he added floor action on the annual defense policy bill to his crowded to-do list for the abbreviated September session.

House Panels Act on Lerner Resolutions

July 16, 2014

Two House panels swept aside Wednesday resolutions that would require the Pentagon and the Justice Department to produce any emails in its possession from embattled former IRS official Lois Lerner.

House Passes Defense Authorization, Despite Veto Threat

May 22, 2014

A broad and familiar coalition of Republicans and Democrats came together Thursday to pass an annual Pentagon policy bill, with House GOP leadership largely ducking some of the more contentious debates and amendments related to the National Defense Authorization Act.




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