Senate Passes National Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017

Around noon today, the Senate passed the National Defense Appropriations Act(S. 2943) by a vote of 85-13. Democratic Majority leader Harry Reid was among the Nays.

Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-AZ, expressed pleasure at the passage of the bill and commended the bipartisanship displayed throughout the legislative process. He did not, however, hide his disappointment with the exclusion from the bill of an amendment that would grant greater protection to foreign translators working for the military.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, also made clear his dismay at the defeated amendment.

Senator McCain blamed intransigent Senators advocating for their own amendments for the translator amendment’s failure. Rapping the lectern in front of him, he declared that because of its absence from the bill, there are translators “being slaughtered right now.” Native translators who work with Americans in the Middle East can be seen as collaborators, and are often prime targets for the Taliban and other militant groups.

The legislation passed today is a broad and deep appropriations package. It meets the President’s budget request, and grants $602 billion dollars worth of funding for 2017.

Acquisitions reform is among its many goals, along with a 1.6% pay rise for all service members, and increased funding for counter terrorism goals such as the the defeat of the Islamic State.

Cyber warfare is elevated to a higher domain in the bill, part of a broader technology push spearheaded by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter as a part of his Force of the Future vision for the military.

This was the 54th consecutive year that the Senate has passed the NDAA.

by Marlon J Ettinger

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