House Passes 2016 Military Spending Bill
May 18, 2015
The House of Representatives voted 269-151 on Friday to pass a bill that would authorize $612 billion in military spending during 2016 with boosts to weapon acquisition and service members’ compensation and benefits.
• The House of Representatives voted 269-151 on Friday to pass a bill that would authorize $612 billion in military spending during 2016 with boosts to weapon acquisition and service members’ compensation and benefits. The bill authorizes an additional $89.2 billion above current sequestration levels, of which $38.3 billion would be used for operation and maintenance at bases. Some Democrats in the chamber, along with their colleagues in the Senate and at the White House, oppose increasing Defense spending without matching it elsewhere with additional domestic investment. Technically, the House bill does not violate the rules of the 2011 sequester as it places the additional funding in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) emergency fund, which is exempt from the funding caps. The legislation also puts limits on the transfer of detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The proposal is opposed by the White House, though 41 House Democrats joined 228 Republicans to support the measure. [WSJ]
• President Obama will announce a ban on the federal provision of some military-style equipment to local police departments on Monday. The President created a task force in January to examine whether local police should be able to use the same armored vehicles, firearms and ammunition, and camouflage uniforms that have been designed for the U.S. military. The federal government greatly expanded its efforts to provide police departments with military-grade equipment after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. President Obama also will announce $163 million in grants to encourage local law enforcement to adopt new policing recommendations on more stringent officer training and information collection methods. [NYT]
Economic Indicators & News
• Russia’s economy contracted 1.9% during the first quarter of 2015, as retail sales dropped 8.7% and industrial production fell 1.6% over the same period. The fall in national output was not as bad as expected, however, as economists had predicted negative growth of between 2.5% and 3.0% due to weak oil prices and the Western sanctions placed on the country following its annexation of Crimea and support of rebels in eastern Ukraine, which have left Russia isolated from foreign capital markets. The Bank of Russia announced that it would extend anti-crisis measures through October 1 to support the banking sector and help stabilize the volatility in the ruble. [FT]
• The National Association of Home Builder’s housing market index dropped two points in May to a reading of 54, reflecting slower present sales, which fell to 59, and a one-point dip in traffic to a very weak 39. The expectations component for sales over the next six months rose one-point to 64. Regionally, homebuilder confidence was strongest in the South, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast. Year-over-year, the housing market index is up nine points from 45, and it’s current reading of 54 is above the 50-point threshold for strength in the sector. [NAHB]