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first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services committees to reconcile competing versions of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill likely will last into the fall despite leaders’ hopes to reach a deal on a conference agreement before Congress leaves for a lengthy recess in July. The Senate approved its annual defense policy bill last week, months earlier than in recent years, but a number of substantive differences between the two versions can be expected to prevent conference discussions from wrapping up quickly, reported CQ Roll Call.One of the biggest differences is the House bill’s reliance on the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to make up for shortfalls in readiness and modernization. That version uses the uncapped OCO account to pay for $18 billion of base budget needs not funded in the Obama administration’s request, including more weapons systems and higher force levels. The maneuver means the next administration would need to request supplementary war funds before the end of April.The Senate version did not adopt the House funding framework, although Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) unsuccessfully attempted to add $18 billion to the OCO account when the bill was debated on the chamber floor. After the Senate passed its measure, McCain said he would still search for ways to boost defense spending, according to the story.A provision in the Senate version allowing the Defense Department to plan and design a detention facility to replace the prison at Guantánamo Bay almost certainly will be opposed by House Republicans.While both bills call for organizational changes at the Pentagon, the Senate includes more far-reaching measures, including language eliminating the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. The two also differ on provisions limiting the size of the National Security Council staff.last_img read more