By Charles Hoskinson
SHUTTING DOWN TALK OF A SHUTDOWN, House and Senate negotiators signed off Thursday night on a $1 trillion-plus, year-end spending bill, which the House may vote on today and perhaps also the Senate. The bill includes an actual fiscal 2012 spending plan for DOD – something Pentagon leaders are expected to welcome after working under a string of continuing resolutions for more than a year. POLITICO’s David Rogers has the details here: http://politi.co/ta6K38
THE SENATE MEANWHILE CLEARED the annual defense policy bill, which Obama has said he would reluctantly sign after months of fighting over the handling of suspected terrorists, especially those who are U.S. citizens. The vote was 86-13.
THE BILL WOULD CREATE a legal basis for the detention of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists and their allies and require military custody for foreign terrorists who attack the United States. It also favors military trials for suspected terrorists, subject to a presidential waiver, and extends for one year the ban on moving detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States.
IT ALSO INCLUDES A HISTORIC CHANGE to the composition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding the head of the National Guard Bureau to that body. DOD had opposed the change, but it had broad support among lawmakers. Our story is here: http://politi.co/vzix9C
ANOTHER PROVISION WOULD REQUIRE DOD to repatriate remains of 13 U.S. sailors buried in Libya since 1804, casualties of America’s first foreign war. The sailors were the crew of the USS Intrepid, which exploded in Tripoli harbor while on a mission to attack enemy forces there.
WRAPPING UP – Pentagon leaders might not get what they want for Christmas, but they’ll get what they need as lawmakers close out the contentious 2011 congressional session.
PANETTA HAS ORDERED officials preparing the DOD strategic review to sign non-disclosure agreements because of “the complexity and interconnectedness” between the strategy review and final budget decisions for fiscal years 2013 to 2017, Bloomberg Government reports today. The story is here (subscription required): http://bit.ly/vVL8dU
A GAO REPORT SAID THURSDAY that that improvements have been made to address management concerns at Arlington National Cemetery, following reports of a host of problems, including the mishandling of service members’ remains. The report also pointed out several ways in which the cemetery could make further improvements, including the modernization of its blueprint, increasing its level of cooperation with other Army organizations and developing a long-term strategic plan that addresses more than just the problems that recently surfaced. See the story here: http://politi.co/sFEWQr
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